By Sabina Mollot
The 30th Street Shelter at Bellevue Hospital, which will soon be for employable men only, is getting six additional peace officers and NYPD officers, Town & Village has learned.
Additionally, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Homeless Services, Nicole Cueto, security in the surrounding neighborhood is also being beefed up with regularly scheduled patrols.
Cueto, in an email, said the following security initiatives have already been implemented:
• NYPD now regularly patrols the block through the afternoon and evening three days a week.
• On Saturdays, 2-3 pairs of DHS Police patrol the area between 34th Street and East 2nd Street, from FDR Drive to Eighth Avenue, from 11 a.m. through the evening.
• The DHS Police on patrol pay special attention to the parks and unsheltered “clients” or homeless men in the streets.
Cueto said she wasn’t sure when the six new officers would start, but Council Member Dan Garodnick told T&V he heard they were currently being trained. Garodnick, along with Council Member Rosie Mendez, recently allocated the funds for additional lighting to be installed throughout the neighborhood near the shelter.
Meanwhile, when asked how things in the neighborhood have been going considering the recently implemented improvements, Antonio Rodriguez, the superintendent and resident manager at the building directly across the street from the shelter, said there was still the problem of homeless men hanging around his property.
Just before responding to Town & Village’s request for an update, Rodriguez said he saw a shelter resident cross the street, then bang both hands on the front of a cab that was crossing 30th Street with the right to go.
“I don’t understand why the city insists in keeping the shelter open for business in a very populated and busy area full of working people and residents exposed to the danger of the clients,” he said in an email.
“DHS Police is trying at least to patrol the area and any time we call them at least they come and tackle the situation. The question is how much one car can patrol and do against the amount of area to cover. Police can’t protect you 24/7.”
As Town & Village has been reporting, neighbors of the shelter have been fed up with the homeless men’s behavior, which they say has included aggressive panhandling, fighting, doing drugs, using pay phones as toilets and public lewdness.