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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GOP-leaning candidate enters Council race

Melissa Jane Kronfeld says she’s a “progressive Conservative.”

Melissa Jane Kronfeld says she’s a “progressive Conservative.”

By Sabina Mollot

The race to replace term-limited City Council Member Dan Garodnick has a new candidate in the GOP-leaning Midtown East resident Melissa Jane Kronfeld.

Kronfeld, a former New York Post reporter, said she is not yet sure what party she’ll be running on, although one thing is for sure. It won’t be Democrat. The 34-year-old, a lifelong resident of the City Council District 4, which snakes its way from Stuyvesant Town to the East 90s, identifies as a “progressive Conservative.”

Asked what this means, Kronfeld, known to friends as “MJ,” said, “Being progressive and conservative are not mutually exclusive. Democrats didn’t copyright it. I checked.

“But,” she added, “we don’t bend so far to the left that it’s a free for all for everybody.”

This, she said, means support for immigrants. “There should be a process (to become legal) but I don’t want to send you anywhere because (your) parents didn’t fill out the proper paperwork,” Kronfeld said. “I’m not a conservative who will tell you don’t have the right to choose or that you don’t have the right to hold your husband’s hand if you’re a man.”

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Sex offender busted at 30th St. shelter, man stopped from stealing ice cream bites into officer

SEX OFFENDER BUSTED AT SHELTER

FOR NOT REGISTERING ADDRESS CHANGE

Police arrested 25-year-old Dashawn Johnson inside the 30th Street Men’s Shelter at 400 East 30th Street last Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. for an unclassified felony after he failed to register a change of address with the sex offender monitoring unit. Police said that Johnson is a level 2 sex offender after being convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree on March 6, 2007. After he was notified of his duties in 2010 and 2015, he allegedly failed to notify authorities of a change of address within 10 days as required by law. Police said that Johnson has a previous conviction for failure to register on April 25, 2016 in Kings County.

MAN WAVES KNIFE AT STRAPHANGERS

ON Q TRAIN NEAR UNION SQUARE

July14 Menacing.jpg

Q train suspect

Police are looking for a man who allegedly pulled a knife on fellow straphangers on the Q train and waved it around in a threatening manner last Thursday. A 49-year-old woman told police that while she was riding a downtown Q from Union Square at 9:05 a.m. when she saw the man waving a knife and making threats to passengers. The man left the train at Canal Street and fled in an unknown direction. The suspect is described as a 30-year-old black man, 6’0″ tall, 180 lbs. with a bald head and dark complexion. He was last seen wearing a red shirt, gray jogging pants and black sneakers.

 

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are kept strictly confidential.

MAN STOPPED FROM STEALING ICE CREAM BITES INTO OFFICER INSTEAD

Thirty-year-old Thomas McKnight was arrested for robbery last Friday after trying to make off with some ice cream from the Duane Reade at 777 Sixth Avenue. Police said that McKnight took ice cream out of the freezer and put it into his shorts without paying for it. When he passed the register and attempted to leave the store, a loss prevention officer attempted to stop him, at which point McKnight allegedly punched the officer in the face, causing swelling and a scratch to his cheek. Police said that McKnight also bit the officer on the arm, causing a red mark, and allegedly stomped on the officer’s cell phone, causing it to break. McKnight was also charged with petit larceny, criminal mischief and possession of stolen property.

MAN ARRESTED AFTER FIREWORKS

HIT PEDESTRIAN ON FIRST AVENUE

Police arrested 32-year-old Joshua Hernandez for reckless endangerment and possession of fireworks on Independence Day last Monday at 10:05 p.m. inside 275 First Avenue. Police were conducting a floor-by-floor search at the building across from Stuyvesant Town because lit fireworks had been thrown onto the street and in one instance hit a passerby. Hernandez was allegedly on the building’s rooftop with a belt of fireworks and a green torch lighter. Police said he was also allegedly in possession of additional fireworks that were in his pants pocket and a transparent bag containing additional fireworks was found behind him.

PAIR ARRESTED FOR CAR BREAK-INS

Police arrested 22-year-old Shaquille King and a teenager for petit larceny in front of the Senton Hotel at 39 West 27th Street on Independence Day last Monday at 6:26 a.m. King and the teen allegedly entered the front passenger’s side and on the back driver’s side of a car. Police said that the car was unlocked but the doors were closed. The victim said he wasn’t sure if property was taken from the car, but King and the teen allegedly went into another car on the driver’s side and passenger’s side. Police said that a witness has video of the incident and saw the car break-in happen. King and the teen allegedly fled east on 27th Street before they were arrested. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his age.

CABBIE ARRESTED FOR HIT-AND-RUN

Police arrested 26-year-old Jonathan Kwok inside the 13th Precinct last Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. for leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury. Police said that Kwok hit the victim with his cab at West 21st and Sixth Avenue on May 21, causing pain to the victim’s hip and leg. Kwok allegedly drove off before police arrived at the scene.

DUANE READE EMPLOYEE BUSTED FOR THEFT

Police arrested 41-year-old Valencia Parrish for petit larceny inside the Duane Reade at 401 Park Avenue South last Wednesday at 11:07 a.m. The store manager told police that he noticed Parrish’s cash register was short on June 15 at the end of her shift and subsequently realized that her register had been short on other shifts of hers as well. He started watching her on video surveillance last Tuesday. Around 8:44 a.m. that day, he saw Parrish receive payment for store items and she allegedly kept the cash in her right hand while giving the customer change. After the customer left the store, Parrish allegedly put the money inside her shirt near her neck. The manager said that Parrish could be seen on video surveillance taking cash on a number of different occasions.

TRESPASSER ARRESTED IN

VACANT APARTMENT IN GRAMERCY

Police arrested 32-year-old Brian Miller for criminal mischief and criminal trespass in front of 15 East 21st Street last Wednesday at 2:28 p.m. The building manager of 15 East 21st Street told police that he went to check on an apartment in the building that is currently vacant and Miller was allegedly inside the apartment without permission. Police said that Miller fled out of an apartment window down the fire escape and was stopped down the block. The building manager said that there was also damage to a ladder that was inside the apartment.

L&W OYSTER CO. EMPLOYEE

ARRESTED AFTER THEFTS

Police arrested 35-year-old Dustin Robinson inside L&W Oyster Co. at 254 Fifth Avenue last Tuesday at 5:07 p.m. for petit larceny and possession of stolen property. Robinson allegedly took money from the victim’s bag that was inside the location. The victim said that he put a camera in the office because money had gone missing after Robinson was hired the previous Saturday.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT

IN UNION SQUARE

Police arrested 23-year-old Ayanna Hull for assault and harassment at the corner of Union Square East and East 14th Street last Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Hull allegedly punched and scratched the victim, causing bruising and cuts to her neck and chest. Police said that the argument was the result of a dispute over a backpack.

MAN BUSTED FOR THEFT AT WEWORK

Police arrested 37-year-old Nathan Pickett for allegedly swiping multiple paintings from the WeWork office at 115 West 18th Street. Police said that Pickett entered the location last Thursday at 10:03 a.m. using his passcard on his day off.

City insists no sex offenders live at shelter

Community residents expressed concern about sex offenders and violent felons. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Community residents expressed concern about sex offenders and violent felons. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The status of the 30th Street Men’s Shelter, and whether sex offenders are still staying there was one of the main topics discussed at a forum on homelessness, which was attended by over 100 people.

The forum, held at the Epiphany Parish Hall on Tuesday evening, was hosted by City Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez. Representatives from the NYPD, the Department of Homeless Services and various non-profit agencies dedicated to assisting the homeless also showed up to discuss street outreach programs and employment resources made available to help homeless people get back on their feet.

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently appointed Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks to do a 90-day review of homeless services throughout the city and Banks was at the forum to focus on specific issues that affect the neighborhood, primarily the 30th Street Men’s Shelter.

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Neighbors complain about noise from First Avenue cocktail lounge

Lieutenant Steven Lebovic at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Lieutenant Steven Lebovic at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

After hearing complaints about ongoing noise from new pizzeria/cocktail bar Visana from neighbors, police said that they would step up their enforcement regarding noise infractions.

This was at the most recent 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday when neighbors of Visana, who live above the business as well as next door complained about the noise and crowds outside the place. Visana opened at 321 First Avenue at the end of September, in the space formerly occupied by Adriatic restaurant.

“My life there has always been quiet,” said Jorge Rios, who has lived directly above the space since 1970. “Restaurants have always been quiet but now that business changed the whole picture. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is fine but Thursday through Saturday I can’t sleep until 4 in the morning.”

Another resident at 321 said that one of the reasons for the excessive noise seemed to be the crowds of people gathered on the sidewalk outside the building.

“On Saturday, the noise was incredible and people couldn’t walk from 18th to 19th without walking into bike path,” said the resident, who didn’t want to give her name. “People were walking into the street and almost getting hit by bikes to avoid the crowds.”

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Robberies, K2 busts up in 13th Precinct

Cops also address noise complaints at new First Avenue pizzeria/lounge

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney giving crime stats at the meeting (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney giving crime stats at the meeting (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Robberies and felony assaults have increased significantly in the past month in the 13th Precinct, with crime overall increasing only slightly, police said this week.

The crimes, which included bank robberies, a K2-related assault on an officer and attacks on Bellevue staffers, were discussed by Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney at a 13th Precinct Community Council meeting this past Tuesday. Additionally, residents at the meeting expressed concern over noise at the new pizzeria and bar/lounge on First Avenue that recently replaced Adriatic.

At the meeting, Timoney also mentioned that a recent arrest made for K2, the synthetic cannabinoid that has started to be a problem for the precinct, especially around the shelters, contributed to the increase in felony assaults this month. This is after a man who was arrested for K2 managed to get his hands to the front of his body while he was handcuffed and punch an officer in the face.

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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 10

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows


Tree guardian and mayor of 24th Street

Sept10 JaconiaThere is a beautiful old tree on the south side of 24th Street, in front of 238 East 24th Street, near Second Avenue. It rises high into the sky in the shape of a crucifix.

The base of the tree is surrounded by cobblestones that fail to protect it from the dogs that are allowed to deposit their waste in the tree bed, daily.

For many years, Anthony Jacona has been affectionately called The Mayor of 24th Street. Weekly, he tends to the tree. He tosses the soil with his shovel and waters this stately gem. One day last summer, Anthony was bent over tending the soil. His shoulder was drooping. He told me he was scheduled for surgery the next day, but he had to make sure the tree was taken care of.

After a successful surgery, Anthony is still tending the tree. His one wish is that someone would install a tree guard to keep out the dogs. It is the only tree on the block without a tree guard.

Young, 91-year-old Anthony Jacona, has lived on the block for more than 50 years. He can recall when they played stickball, on Sundays, in the street when there was a Third Avenue El and no cars on the block.

We salute the Mayor of 24th Street!

Claude L. Winfield, EMP

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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Appreciating coverage on people and animals

To the Editor,

First, my thanks to T&V for some wonderful issues in the depths of our summer when so many are away. I especially appreciated the editorial (and letter) on the homeless and Steve Sanders column (in T&V, Aug. 13).

I give regularly to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, which is wonderful and has constantly expanded since 1982 when the congregation thought it would be temporary. They have added a social service unit to connect their guests to services they didn’t know they qualified for. I hope Mayor De Blasio’s plan will enable the Bellevue Shelter to increase their services, and that the change in who it serves will not take forever as your editorial so beautifully stated.

Don’t know if it helps but The Chief (Aug. 14, page 2) mentions several names along with agencies involved in the mayor’s plan that our community might approach.

Speaking as a psychotherapist, it is very tricky to define who is potentially violent so don’t be shy if you’re worried about an individual. As for who is mentally ill, if you have no money or home and you’re hungry, might you not get angry and try to bully a clerk into giving you food? Being upset and in agony is not per se mental illness but it can be.

Steve Sanders’ column (“Killing our sacred cow”) is so rich with insights and well-reasoned that I can not only agree but also hope it will be published again when the news will probably make it needed.

That Cecil the lion suffered has been glossed over to some extent. I heard it was 40 hours of living with an arrow in him before he was found and shot. The American dentist who shot the arrow apparently had no concern for the suffering he was inflicting. Lions seem to have been symbols for we humans for as long as we have history. It’s patience and fortitude who grace the entrance to the 42nd Street library. Can you think of another symbol there? I can’t. C.S. Lewis in Narnia made Aslan a lion. Steve Sanders did a beautiful job of detailing our American culture of guns and killing. With Cecil it felt like Aslan was not only slain but tortured and many of us wept. Let’s hope we can live on with more grace and love.

Joyce Kent, Gramercy

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Homelessness – and why New Yorkers have the right to expect action

The topic of homelessness has garnered many headlines in recent weeks, including in this newspaper, which has been chronicling the concerns of neighbors of the 850-bed men’s shelter at Bellevue Hospital. Additionally, in a recent letter to the editor, a T&V reader remarked on her observation that homeless people have even been sleeping in and around Stuyvesant Town.

Therefore, we were relieved to hear Mayor Bill de Blasio and the first lady roll out a plan last Thursday to help the mentally ill in this city, including those who are homeless and have histories of violence or aggressive behavior, get easier access to services they need. Though it doesn’t focus on the homeless in particular, the plan is focused on getting different city agencies to start communicating in a meaningful way in order to determine the best course of action (treatment vs. jail, for instance) when dealing with particular individuals.

This initiative really can’t start soon enough.

In Kips Bay, where residents have for years complained of homeless men fighting, using pay phones as toilets, and masturbating in plain sight, tips get swapped by neighbors on Facebook on how to deal with the ongoing problem themselves. One resident recently advised others not to give money to the shelter residents, in the hope that they’ll panhandle elsewhere. It’s worth pointing out, though, that for those who do want to help the homeless, offering money isn’t the only way to do this.

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New app allows users to track the homeless

App creator David Fox

App creator David Fox

By Sabina Mollot

In the streets surrounding the men’s shelter at Bellevue, neighbors in recent months have been snapping photos of homeless men when they spot anything that seems alarming, whether it’s public lewdness or aggressive behavior. The photos often get sent to local police and homeless officials and sometimes on the neighborhood Facebook page 33rd and Third (And Beyond).

Now, those residents should have any easier time chronicling their complaints, thanks to an app created by a Murray Hill data engineer and programmer. The free app allows users to post their photos onto a map, which then lets other users know, through pins, the locations where particular homeless people are camping out in real time. It also offers a variety of hashtags for users to choose from depending on the situation, such as #aggressivebegging or #needsmedicalattention. So far, midtown has been the most heavily tagged area.

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Shelter to soon be for employable men

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

Neighbors of the 30th Street men’s shelter, who for years have complained about homeless men aggressively panhandling, using the corner pay phones as toilets and just generally being nuisances, may soon see some relief.

The Department of Homeless Services, which runs the shelter that’s located at Bellevue Hospital, is planning to turn it into a shelter for men who are employed or considered employable and seeking job training.

Ken Ryan, the property manager of 350 East 30th Street, a mixed rental and condo building across the street from the shelter, said he was told this at a recent private meeting he had with DHS Deputy Commissioner of Adult Services Jody Rudin.

“That’s promising,” Ryan told Town & Village. “I am all for a homeless men’s shelter where men have jobs, or are being trained for jobs and live in the shelter. I am not for bums who get a bed and food and do nothing but harass the people in the neighborhood.”

Town & Village reached out to the DHS and press secretary Nicole Cueto confirmed the plan, which the department hopes to implement by the end of the calendar year. The shift in services won’t change the amount of men the shelter currently serves — around 850 — and while the unemployable residents would be sent elsewhere, the intake center and assessment processes would remain in place.

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Residence for LGBT youths opening on East 13th Street

Residents of other Ali Forney facilities and staff members as well as local elected officials and members of the Cooper Square Committee gather at the Bea Arthur Residence. Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Residents of other Ali Forney facilities and staff members as well as local elected officials and members of the Cooper Square Committee gather at the Bea Arthur Residence. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Monday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the location of what will be a new 18-bed residence for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth at 222 East 13th Street. The residence will be named for the late television and Broadway star, Bea Arthur, who was especially sympathetic to the plight of LGBT young people.

When she died in 2009, Arthur named the Ali Forney Center, an organization that helps LGBT youths, as a major beneficiary in her will, leaving $300,000 to the center. Executive director Carl Siciliano wrote in a column posted on Huffington Post on Tuesday that the center, then struggling due to the recession and a lack of donations, and the money helped them make payroll for months. Siciliano had pledged that if the Ali Forney Center ever owned property, he would name a building after her, and he will soon be able to fulfill that promise, thanks to the $3.3 million city-funded project.

The building on East 13th Street between Second and Third Avenues is a former single-room occupancy and notorious crack house that had been vacant for almost 20 years. Following a recommendation from Community Board 3 in 2011, the city-owned building was transferred to the Ali Forney Center in partnership with the Cooper Square Committee. The City Council awarded the two organizations $3 million for the project and then-Borough President Scott Stringer funded an additional $300,000 in 2012.

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New lighting planned for Kips Bay around homeless shelter

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez outside the 30th Street men’s shelter Photo by David Kimball-Stanley)

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez outside the 30th Street men’s shelter (Photo by David Kimball-Stanley)

By Sabina Mollot

City Council Members and Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez are hoping to shed a little light on the subject of resident safety in Kips Bay.

The plan is to have new lighting installed on the streets around the Bellevue shelter on East 30th Street and First Avenue. Additional lighting is also planned for a nearby playground, Bellevue South and possibly other playgrounds.

The project is in response to concerns by neighbors of the shelter, who, as Town & Village reported last week, feel that the city-run facility’s 850 residents have gotten out of control with aggressive panhandling, loitering, fighting, public urination and sometimes worse.

On a recent evening Garodnick and Mendez took a stroll through the neighborhood along with employees of the Department of Transportation’s lighting division to see which streets could use more visibility.

Though Garodnick said all the exact locations have not yet been determined, the block of the shelter, from 29th to 30th Streets along First Avenue, will be included as will 30th Street between First and Second Avenues. The manager of the residential building located there has said men have used that block as a toilet and the ledge of the adjoining garage wall as a bed.

“We are exploring funding those initiatives as soon as this month in the city budget which we are about to pass,” said Garodnick.

He added that he doesn’t know yet what the project will cost since it hasn’t yet been determined if the lighting will be standard DOT issue or a “less ordinary solution.”

Another safety improvement planned is to cut back any overgrown trees along 30th Street between First and Second Avenues which have been impeding light.

Why this man thinks everyone should experience being homeless

For Stuyvesant Town native Richard Luksin, eviction led to being homeless, more than once.

For Stuyvesant Town native Richard Luksin, eviction led to being homeless, more than once.

By Sabina Mollot

Richard Luksin, a former Stuyvesant Town resident, thinks everyone should experience being homeless once for at least two weeks. It is one of his holiday wishes, actually, since he believes it would make people more compassionate towards those who are homeless as well as the poor in general.

Luksin, a 69-year-old retiree now living in Minneapolis, may be a familiar name to some readers of Town & Village, since he’s a relatively regular writer of letters to the editor, usually reminiscing about the old days of Stuy Town when he grew up in the complex. But what most people don’t know about him is that he was homeless in New York, after getting evicted from his own apartment on Avenue C in 1979. He’d attempted to fight the owner in court for about 10 months, but it was really just prolonging the inevitable. He was after all, many months behind in rent with no way to pay it.

“I only worked at jobs I liked,” explained Luksin, “and the jobs I liked tended to pay minimum wage. I used to work at bookshops. I did that for about 10 years. And I liked to play in a rock band, and unless you’re famous you make no money doing that.”

After getting evicted, Luksin spent a good five months being homeless. To sleep, he’d ride the subway from the start of a line to the end, then do the same on another train. “Certain stations you could go to the bathroom,” he recalled. “Then you’d get back on the train.” His girlfriend was usually doing this with him, although when things would get too rough, she’d take a few days off from the routine and stay with family.

Other times, when Luksin didn’t even have the money to get on the subway, well, “It was tough,” he said. “It was winter.”

Going to a shelter wasn’t an option. There weren’t that many in the city at the time and those that were there were too dangerous to consider. “They were extremely dangerous,” said Luksin.

Still, he admitted, being homeless to some degree was a choice. Before living on his own in Stuyvesant Town, Luksin had grown up there in his parents’ apartment in a nearby building. Eventually they moved to a suburb of Minneapolis, since his father had frequently had to travel in the Midwest for business, and was tired of the constant trips to and from New York. So when Luksin was given the boot by Met Life, he knew he could have just stayed with them for a while.

“I had wonderful parents, but I didn’t want to be a burden,” he said.

Then one day, while still in the city figuring things out, he happened to be sitting in the front row of a movie, where he met a woman. They smoked the same brand of cigarettes, were both Rolling Stones fans and they hit it off immediately. Although she’d been living in Queens with her parents, “She moved into the streets with me,” said Luksin. “Our love was that deep.”

While he did end up moving in with his parents in Minnesota for a while, when his girlfriend found a place in Queens, Luksin moved again to be with her. They lived in that apartment for 12 years, which, said Luksin, was better than being homeless, but just barely.

“That was another form of death,” he said, and before long, he was back on the streets.

And this time, he found them to be a much meaner place. Friends he’d previously relied on for an occasional place to crash had either moved from the city or died. One of the latter was a man who use to let Luksin sleep in the back of his store. This meant many more nights on the subway, and more days wandering familiar places that somehow felt different.

“I would sit on a bench thinking, I’ve been here a thousand times and now I’m here as a homeless person. I don’t belong and yet I do.”

Still, he added he was lucky in that he was never assaulted or harassed on the subway, with most of the other late night riders also just looking for a place to sleep.
He added, “If people had to go through this, like finding out where you’re going to go the bathroom next, they’d be much kinder to the poor. Republicans all think the same way that if you’re poor it’s because you don’t want to work.”

When reminded about the fact that he only chose to work at jobs he loved rather than do one that he didn’t, Luksin answered, “No one ever offered me that. I was well known for being in bookstores.”

One longtime job was at the Metropolitan Bookstore on East 23rd Street, which was frequented by Met Life employees. Another place he worked was on St. Marks Place, where Lower East Side legends Allen Ginsberg, Tuli Kupferberg and Abbie Hoffman were customers. He recalled how one time, Hoffman casually walked out with a book, informing Luksin, “I’m stealing this book. I’ll bring it back tomorrow.” And he did.

Following his second stint on the streets, once again Luksin moved back in with his parents. By then, it was 1993. His parents were getting older and Luksin’s return was also beneficial to them.

“Anyone would tell you I had the coolest parents,” he said. “They were wonderful people. They just wanted me to be happy.”

After they died, Luksin stayed in their apartment, until once again he was evicted. He said he wasn’t working at that time because he was focusing all his time and energy on music. After losing the apartment, he bounced around in the Minnesota shelter system. One shelter, he recalled, was particularly horrific.

“All ex-addicts, ex-cons, anything you can put an ex in front of, and some didn’t even have an ex,” he said.

The better shelters, however, had waiting lists of several years. Eventually, someone suggested to him that he apply for senior housing.

“They said, ‘People die all the time. You’ll get in quicker.’” So he did this and has been in his own apartment ever since. Luksin said has the best apartment in the building, but on the downside, “It’s in the middle of nowhere.”

(It’s safe to say if anyone has a cheap room to rent in Stuyvesant Town or even somewhere in an outer borough, he’s interested.)

After being away for nearly two decades, Luksin once again made a trip to Stuyvesant Town in the summer of 2013. Aside from the obvious differences from when he grew up in the complex, like the presence of dogs and the gleaming white Oval Amenities spaces, Luksin said he couldn’t help but notice the generation gap between newer and more longterm tenants.

“You could feel the animosity between the older and younger people,” he recalled. “It wasn’t directed at me, but I could still feel it.” But, he added, “I would still rather live there than anywhere else in the world.”

He in particular enjoyed living on Avenue C, although this meant as a kid he’d attended some of the neighborhood’s rougher schools like PS 61 and Seward Park High School. His junior high school was JHS 104, where his was the first graduating class.
It was also an opportunity to meet other Stuy Town kids who’d attended PS 40 previously and therefore “they were a different species.” PS 61, in contrast to PS 40, was, as far as Luksin remembers it, “a violent hellhole. There was no such thing as racial tolerance back then.”

Once in high school, he started learning to play guitar. He later joined a band called Cross, which was inspired by the style of the Rolling Stones. (Luksin also went by Ritchie Cross as a stage name.) The band played at places like Max’s Kansas City and The Ocean Club.

Luksin credits his friend, Daniel Silverberg, a kid from the Bronx, who wrote songs for inspiring him to do the same. “It was like osmosis. Hanging around with him, I instinctively knew some things.”

Interestingly while he never made money off his music in New York, somehow someone had gotten a hold of one of his songs in Germany (though Luksin has no recollection of ever recording) and started sending him royalties.
He has no idea who sent the money either and it wasn’t much.

“Twelve dollars here. A hundred dollars. It wasn’t often. There was a name (on the check) but it was in German. Hey, god bless you, Germany.”

These days, Luksin, whose last job was as an elevator operator, which he did for 10 years in Minneapolis, lives on Social Security. His rent is paid partially on Section 8.

When asked if he had any holiday-time reflections, he said, “There’s a saying that next to a circus, nothing leaves town quicker than the Christmas spirit. The principal disease (in this country) is greed. That this country has homeless people is a crime. It’s a shame. We have a minimum of five million people who are homeless when we have enough money in this country where everyone can have an apartment somewhere.”

He added, “Let’s hope this year is a new year and not just the same one over and over again.”