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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Letters to the Editor, Mar. 21

What is legal basis for rent reduction policy?

The following letter was written by several East Side elected officials to Darryl C. Towns, commissioner and CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal on the housing agency’s policy towards rent reductions for losses of services like those experienced in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. (The letter, though addressed to the HCR, refers to it as DHCR, its predecessor agency.)

Dear Commissioner Towns:

We are writing to request clarification of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s (DHCR) rent reduction policy with respect to tenants who experience a diminution of services, and to highlight an imminent issue in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village (ST-PCV).

We are concerned that the DHCR’s policy is incompatible with the Rent Stabilization Code (RSC), and runs the risk of denying tenants compensation to which they may be entitled. Specifically, we seek clarification about a serious discrepancy between the DHCR’s stated policy on rent reduction effective dates and the RSC as it pertains to applications for Rent Reductions for Decreased Services recently filed by hundreds of ST-PCV residents in approximately 110 buildings, who are represented by the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

As you know, these ST-PCV residents filed applications on February 26, 2013 for rent reductions due to loss of services during and after Hurricane Sandy. The lost amenities include loss of trunk storage service, security systems, laundry room services, bicycle and carriage room storage, elevator service and building intercom services.

Section 2523.4(a)(1) of the RSC provides that “the DHCR shall … reduce the rent for the period for which it is found that the owner has failed to maintain required services.” Of course, application of this provision is predicated on the DHCR finding that services in fact have not been maintained, but in the event of such a finding, it is clear that any rent reduction should be effective for the entire period for which the services have not been maintained.

However, it is apparently the DHCR’s practice, as stated in its Fact Sheet #14: Rent Reductions for Decreased Services, that “The effective date for rent stabilized tenants is retroactive back to the first day of the month following DHCR’s service of the complaint on the owner.”

We do not understand why the DHCR’s practice is inconsistent with the RSC. If tenants are denied contractually obligated services, neither logic nor the RSC supports limiting their remedy to the period after the DHCR has had time to serve notice on the owner.

We are particularly concerned with the rent reduction applications recently filed by ST-PCV residents and currently pending before the DHCR. We understand that the DHCR has indicated that it may take several weeks to process these applications, which could delay the start date of any approved reductions even further under the agency’s stated practice.

In light of these serious concerns, we must ask: (1) When do you expect to present ST-PCV management with the rent reduction claims? (2) What is the legal basis for the policy regarding effective dates found in the fact sheet?

Given the time sensitive nature of the ST-PCV applications, and the importance of this issue to the people we represent, we ask that you respond promptly to these questions. If you would like to discuss this matter, please feel free to contact any of us directly. If you would like to arrange a meeting or conference call, Anna Pycior in Assemblymember Kavanagh’s office is available to help arrange one. We hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Brian Kavanagh, State Assembly Member
Brad Hoylman,
State Senator
Daniel R. Garodnick, City Council Member
Carolyn B. Maloney, U.S. Representative
Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan Borough President

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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 20

Conservative thoughts

Two items have outstripped inflation during the past decades: medical care and education. Why?

One obvious reason for increased costs of medicine is good: new understandings, treatments and technologies (some scanning devices cost in excess of $1M). But why does every “first rate” hospital have to own one? They could be shared. Prestige costs excessive money.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, my family saw a physician whose fee was $3 per office visit and a house call (really!) was $5. Now with inflation a consultation is at least $100 and house calls are hardly even remembered.

Then every patient knew what he/she was paying. With the advent of insurance and government entitlements, few know what’s being charged. (And, don’t care.) So, that has made many physicians increase fees as a result of avarice.

Education: in 1973, when I began graduate school at Columbia, my aunt who had attended during the 1940’s. She asked me how much I paid for tuition. “$96.” She was shocked and told me that she had paid $10. This is a pattern which envelopes almost all universities – college and graduate school. Now Columbia, the other Ivy League schools and even the overrated NYU, charge over $1,200 per credit.

Why? Certainly Columbia has an endowment of about a zillion dollars. The cost exists because they can and students keep on applying. Loans have to be taken by many students.

Public primary and secondary education keep on receiving more monies – yet the result is that today’s undergraduates are being exposed to yesterday’s high school curriculum.

For medical care and education to be effective, the free market should be used: be sure to let patients know what is being paid per visit and procedure. (The higher the fee, the more insurance has to be paid.) And universities must be made more demanding in curriculum and far more competitive in their fees – so that post graduates are not burdened for practically the remainder of their lives.

Some on the right speak of “European socialism.” Well, some unworkable and ineffective form is what’s going on here.

David Chowes, PCV

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