Letters to the Editor, Mar. 16

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

NYC homeless losing resources to others

Perhaps if any of our esteemed local representatives took the time to chat with some of the younger homeless, as I have, you/they would discover (as I did), that most of the people, aged 16-40, come from other states, as close as NJ and as far away as the Dakotas!

That being said, I do believe that NY State and City residents should help the homeless, but help our citizens first. There must be a law somewhere, or one that could be written and introduced that would give preferential treatment to NYC citizens out of our NYC taxes, and possibly even send these young, able-bodied (but mostly alcohol or drug-addled) men and women back to the state they came from, and let those tax payers take care of their own. You could start by asking for any kind of identification before giving them services such as food stamps, housing, etc.

The other big burden we share are the many single teenaged mothers, most of whom have live-in boyfriends, but don’t marry because the men don’t want to share the responsibility or the rent.

If any of our powers that be would walk First Avenue from 23rd Street to 32nd Street, near the men’s shelter, methadone clinics, outpatients at Bellevue or go from First Avenue to 10th Avenue, along any of the main crosstown streets, or any place where there are restaurants or storefronts on the avenues south of 50th Street, you will see hundreds of panhandlers, barely out of their teens, with signs begging for money.  The cardboard signs say all kinds of things to gain sympathy, and a cup at their feet for donations.

I am a life-long Democrat, as is my entire family, some of whom were active in politics. However, I think that the Democrats, in particular Mayor De Blasio, are ruining our city.  I hope he and Governor Cuomo read the above and do something about it!

Barbara Zapson, PCV

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Six new officers headed to shelter

The 30th Street shelter at Bellevue’s “Old Psych” building (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The 30th Street shelter at Bellevue’s “Old Psych” building (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

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.

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Kips Bay parents want homeless drop-in center to move

This photo, by Kips Bay resident Yael Feder, of a man lying in a building’s planter, was recently shared on the neighborhood Facebook page, “Third and 33rd (and Beyond).”

By Sabina Mollot

Following the news last month that the 30th Street men’s shelter would soon be limiting the residents it accepts to those deemed employable and seeking job training, neighborhood residents have been left wondering why a similar standard can’t be shared with the nearby drop-in center for the shelter.

Called Mainchance, the drop-in center is located at 32nd Street and run by a nonprofit entity called the Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services. It is however, funded by the Department of Homeless Services.

One mom of two young children, Lauren Pohl, has been vocal in calling for change in the area like many of her fed up neighbors in Kips Bay, who’ve recently gotten more organized in their complaining about the local homeless men’s antics. They include frequent public fighting, drug use, urination, aggressive panhandling and lewdness. Pohl and another resident, Mort Greenberg, are co-chairs of active Facebook page, “Third and 33rd (and Beyond!)” where neighbors have been posting almost daily photos of various offenses.

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Neighbors of shelter say homeless men have gotten out of control

Homeless men congregate in front of a residential building across the street from the shelter, where neighbors say the men pandhandle, fight, urinate and occasionally worse.

Homeless men congregate in front of a residential building across the street from the shelter, where neighbors say the men panhandle, fight, urinate and occasionally worse.

By Sabina Mollot

For the Kips Bay residents whose homes are near the men’s homeless shelter on First Avenue and 30th Street, concerns over safety and quality of life didn’t begin in April after a rape at a local bar, which was allegedly committed by one of the shelter’s residents.

A few neighbors who were interviewed by Town & Village recently said they’ve had to alter their daily routines for years now in an attempt to avoid the homeless men, who’ve become a near-constant presence on the sidewalks, loitering, fighting, panhandling and using phone booths on the corners as a toilet as well as a spot to do drugs.

Residents have also reported being harassed and an increase in aggressive behavior. In May, a coalition of fed up neighbors who live the shelter started a petition aimed at reducing the number of beds at the shelter to about 250. Currently there are 850 and the shelter, at Bellevue’s “Old Psych” unit, is running at full capacity.

Other requested changes include forbidding any man who’s been charged with a sexual offense or other violent crimes to stay there, and closing the loophole in the law that allowed those men to stay there in the first place.

While all the sex offenders who’d been staying at the shelter were relocated after the rape at Turnmill bar on East 27th Street, this isn’t necessarily permanent. State law dictates that sex offenders can’t be within 1,000 feet of a school. However, this only applies to sex offenders who are out on parole or probation, so the Department of Homeless Services, which runs the shelter, has been in compliance.

The neighbors, meanwhile, said they also want to see the closure of the shelter’s Mainchance Intake Center located on East 32nd Street, blasting it in the petition as poorly run and having no regard for the community. It now has over 1,300 signatures. Though it’s not mentioned in the petition, area residents as well as the superintendent/resident manager of a building across First Avenue from the shelter, Antonio Rodriguez, have indicated they’d also be thrilled if the city got rid of the phone booths along the avenue.

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Larceny up this month, mainly bag, phone thefts

Captain Brendan TImoney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Captain Brendan Timoney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Captain Brendan Timoney, who hosted his first community council meeting as the new commanding officer of the 13th Precinct on Tuesday, told residents that the neighborhood is still having some of the same old problems with grand larceny.

That crime is up by about 6.7 percent in the last month and Timoney noted that the precinct is specifically tracking a pattern in which a black man on a bicycle seems to be targeting women distracted by their smart phones. So far, 13 women have been victims of the thief, who rides on the sidewalk behind them and grabs their phone while they’re not paying attention. Four of them had their purses stolen but Timoney said that the rest had their phones snatched right out of their hands and he added that with some of the incidents, there is video surveillance available that shows the women’s inattention to who and what is around them.

“Know your surroundings,” advised Timoney, who was transferred to the 13th Precinct seven weeks ago. “Many of them had their heads buried in the phone and didn’t even see the guy coming.”

While the phone and purse snatchings contributed to the increases, Timoney said that theft of unattended items also continues to be a problem for the precinct, where bar and restaurant goers are leaving their bags and phones behind while they go to get a drink.

“Get the word out to your friends to keep your property in your sights at all times,” he advised.

In addition to grand larceny, Timoney said that crime is currently experiencing a spike in the 13th Precinct and was up slightly overall in the last month.

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Letters to the Editor, Apr. 30

Apr9 Toon Cyclone

Why was mail dumped in wrong building?

Today, Saturday, April 25, dozens (literally dozens) of pieces of mail addressed to tenants of 435 East 14th Street were dumped in the lobby of 445 East 14th Street. Most of the mail was rent bills.

I took all of it over to the lobby of 435, though I didn’t take all the magazines because I was running late for an appointment and there were a lot of magazines, too!

Anybody at 435 should regularly check the lobby of 445 because we get their mail quite frequently, though not usually as much as today.

Obviously, it was not our regular letter carrier working today because she is very careful. I wonder why the Postal Service is going down the toilet?

Maybe it’s time that PCVST set up some way of electronic rent payment (if it doesn’t already) because I’m sure this is not an isolated incident and some tenants may be late with their rent because the Postal Service (if you can call it “service”) is so bad around here.

Frances Clarke, ST

Town & Village called the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office three times on Monday and again on Wednesday to ask about this but the phone wasn’t picked up any of those times. An employee at a window said he’d heard about it and thought someone had forgotten to lock the mailboxes. An official spokesperson for the USPS didn’t respond to an email from T&V requesting a comment. A rep for CWCapital said it was a USPS issue and referred any questions to the aforemenioned agency. T&V also contacted Congress Member Carolyn Maloney whose case worker for postal issues, Sarah Belleas, asked that tenants who experience any mail problems contact her at sarah.belleas@mail.house.gov.

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All sex offenders moved out of Bellevue shelter

Planned legislation would make this permanent by closing loophole allowing them to stay there

Councilmember Dan Garodnick spoke at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting, which drew  a large crowd concerned mainly about the Bellevue shelter for men.

Councilmember Dan Garodnick spoke at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting, which drew a large crowd concerned mainly about the Bellevue shelter for men. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents concerned about the recent rape of a woman in a bar on East 27th Street and subsequent arrest of a man who had been living in the nearby Bellevue Men’s Shelter for the crime learned that all sex offenders have since been moved out of the shelter.

Matt Borden from the Department of Homeless Services made the announcement at the most recent 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, which was held at the Epiphany Parish Hall instead of its usual spot in the precinct because so many from the community were expected at the event. Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez were also at the meeting to discuss legislation that would put tighter restrictions on who is allowed at the shelter.

While the regular monthly meeting would usually consist of a report from the precinct’s commanding officer about recent crimes overall, new Executive Officer Paul Zangrilli, filling in for the new Commanding Officer Brandon Timoney, instead focused on the reason that meeting attendance had quadrupled to about 100 area residents.

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