Residents of Manhattan’s Upper West Side are again raising safety concerns about the hundreds of homeless people being housed by the city in three luxury hotels there, after groups were spotted drinking and urinating, and records revealed that six convicted pedophiles appear to have been illegally housed near an elementary-school playground.
On Friday evening, several rowdy groups were spotted openly drinking and carousing near 79th Street and Broadway, not far from three of the hotels where the city is housing homeless people for $175 per person each night.
Among the hotels on the city’s list are The Belleclaire, The Lucerne and The Belnord on the Upper West Side, where all other guests have been quietly cleared out to make way for the homeless individuals.
It is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s scheme to try to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 at the city’s dormitory-style homeless shelters, but concerned UWS residents have raised an outcry that the neighborhood is being terrorized by open drug use, lewd displays and brazen harassment, and say they fear the situation will spin out of control.
Homeless men were spotted drunk and horsing around with liquor and beer out in the open as people walked pass them at the crosswalk Near West 79th and Broadway on Friday
The men passed a bottle of liquor, seemingly with no concern about getting or passing coronavirus
Some were seen drinking and urinating in the middle of the center median on Broadway
Outside the 79th street 123 Subway Station on Broadway, some men can be seen drinking and stumbling around while getting into small arguments with each other on Friday
The Belleclaire Hotel, one of three housing homeless people on the UWS, is seen on Friday
So far, nearly 5,000 UWS residents have signed a petition demanding ‘safe and clean streets on the Upper West Side.’
‘Residents, including myself, have observed drug use in public. This situation is making life uncomfortable for residents and putting families, children and the elderly in harms way. Please sign the petition and share the link if you are in support of relocating these men,’ reads the petition.
Adding to their fears, at least six convicted pedophiles, including one who forcibly raped a four-year-old girl, are listed in state records as currently living at the Belleclaire hotel, which is less than 1,000 feet from the playground of PS 87.
‘Look, we’re a progressive-minded community, and we tend to be sympathetic to the homeless,’ a neighborhood mom who asked not to be identified by name told the Post. ‘But with sex offenders, draw the line.’
A city spokesperson told the New York Post that the state’s sex offender listings are not accurate and that the ‘names you reference are not at that location.’
Asked why the offenders were listed as currently living at The Belleclaire, and whether they had previously lived there, the spokesperson declined to comment.
The sex offenders listed as living at The Belleclaire are:
- Devron Vernal, 26, a sexually violent offender convicted in 2015 of physically overpowering and having sex with a 4-year-old girl. He was sentenced to four years in prison and remains on parole until 2028
- Jonathan Evans, 29, a sexually violent offender convicted in 2010 for using threats to force intercourse on a 6-year-old boy. He was sentenced to five years prison, and is not off of parole until 2025
- Anderson Stuckey, 51, a sexually violent offender convicted in 2005 for using threats to rape a 10-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 12 years prison, and is not off parole until 2024.
- Orlando Velasco, 35, is a sexually violent offender convicted in 2011 of repeatedly sexually molesting a child who was under the age of 11. He was sentenced to 42 months of prison, and is not off parole until 2022.
- Ronald Butler, 62, is a predicate sex offender who was convicted in 2013 of rape in the third degree for repeatedly using physical force to overpower and have intercourse with a 16-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 30 months state prison, and is not off parole until 2025.
- Rafael Medina, 37, was convicted in 2015 of forcibly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in Fort Plain Village, in Montgomery County, NY. He was sentenced to three years prison and is on parole until 2023.
At a press conference on Friday, de Blasio said that homeless people would be returned to city shelters once it is safe from a public health standpoint.
‘Let’s say it’s six months-ish,’ said de Blasio, a Democrat. ‘While we’re dealing with this crisis, until people are vaccinated. Then once we get through that we’re going to of course move out of those hotels and go back to the shelter system.’
At a press conference on Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that homeless people would be returned to city shelters once it is safe from a public health standpoint
A man collecting cans near west 78th and Broadway. Homeless not far from the Belleclaire Hotel and the Lucerne Hotel can be seen congregating near west 79th and Broadway.
A man is seen passed out on the steps of First Baptist Church at 79th St and Broadway on Friday
Concerned residents have raised an outcry that the neighborhood is being terrorized by open drug use, lewd displays and brazen harassment, and say they fear the situation will spin out of control
Large numbers of homeless men have been moved into three hotels in New York City’s Upper West Side, much to the dismay of local residents, who have complained of drug use, public urination and cat calling. Pictured: A group of people who appear to be homeless loiter at Broadway and West 95th
Homeless men were moved from dorm-style accommodation to the hotels in recent weeks so that they could have one or two people to each room – limiting the spread of Covid-19.Pictured: A group of men loiter at Broadway and 79th Street
Upper West Side residents have reported seeing homeless men around the hotels urinating in public, openly using drugs and passed out on the sidewalk
Local Upper West Side residents fear that the homeless situation in the area is a ticking time bomb, with it costing authorities $175 a night to house a single person in the hotels
This week, residents of the neighborhood complained online about the people who are being housed in those hotels who they say are terrorizing the area. Pictured: Two people who appear to be homeless on the Upper West Side
Earlier this week, residents of the neighborhood complained online about the people who are being housed in those hotels who they say are terrorizing the area.
The homeless-in-hotels scheme set up by de Blasio is one of many factors that New York City residents say are contributing toward a rapid decline in quality of life.
Many of New York’s wealthy residents fled months ago – taking their disposable income and their tax dollars with them – and there are fears they may never come back.
Crime is up dramatically, but de Blasio has stripped the police force budget by $1billion in response to Black Lives Matter protests.
Local residents have reported seeing fights, have been verbally abused or harassed, seen people spitting – despite the ongoing pandemic – and have also seen people looking for, or using drugs. A homeless person is seen sleeping on a couch on the Upper West Side
Two homeless people are pictured on the affluent Upper West Side, where many transients have been moved into hotels
Belonging and trash are seen piled up in the wealthy Upper West Side. Garbage has been piling up across the city after the sanitation department’s budget was cut
Some retailers and restaurants have been forced to close permanently and those who are hanging on face continuously changing and difficult rules, like having to sell ‘substantial’ amounts of food to customers to avoid crowds gathering.
De Blasio and Cuomo are enforcing checkpoints to stop tourists from 35 COVID hotspot states from entering the city without quarantining for 14 days too.
A Facebook group, in which residents have shared pictures of men urinating, masturbating and laying sprawled out on sidewalks near the hotels, has been set up and there are other complaints on Twitter.
‘Our community is terrified, angry and frightened,’ one organizer of the 1,700 member group, Dr. Megan Martin, told The Post.
The homeless were moved from dorm-style accommodation around the city to the hotels so that they can be housed one or two to a room in order to protect them from Covid-19 more effectively, officials have said.
Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Steven Banks said Thursday: ‘In order to defuse that ticking time bomb, we implemented a massive emergency relocation of human beings from those congregate shelters throughout the city, more than 10,000 in about eight weeks.’
However, local residents fear that the situation around the three hotels could be spiraling out of control.
The hotels in the Upper West Side are three out of 139 in the city housing homeless people according to a source cited by The Post from the Hotel Association of New York City.
The initiative is costing hundreds of millions of dollars according to the source, with FEMA covering 75 per cent, and the other 25 per cent being paid for by the city. Officials have reportedly confirmed this breakdown.
According to The Post’s source, the contract to accommodate the homeless in hotels is set to run through until October, but is expected to be renewed.
One local community board member told the website that the DHS, who is handling the distribution of the funds, have not been transparent with the local neighborhood about the details of the scheme, and locals have been given little to no input or notice.
The board member, who chose to stay anonymous, said that they had been told the city was paying hotels $175 per day, per person, or $350 a day for housing two people in a room.
‘You do the math,’ the board member said to The Post. ‘It’s a lot of money,’ adding ‘It feels like the 1970s. Everyone who can move out is moving out.’
Local parents are particularly concerned with the ten registered sex offenders that have been accommodated in the Belleclaire as of Thursday, according to the state sex offender registry.
Pictured: The Belleclaire on Broadway, one of the three hotels in the Upper West Side being used as homeless shelters for men during the coronavirus crisis in New York City
A room at The Lucerne Hotel, one of the 139 where homeless people are being housed. It’s unclear how many people are involved and what the arrangement is for their meals
A Facebook group has been set up by local residents to share pictures of homeless people in the Upper West Side as the crisis continues to grow. Pictures shared on the group have shown a number of homeless men sleeping on the streets in the local area around the hotels
Included in those ten are Luis Martin, 44, who assaulted and raped a woman in 1995, Roland Butler, 62, convicted in 2013 of raping a 16-year-old girl, Eddie Daniel, 59, convicted of abused a 10-year-old in 2011, Jonathan Evans, 29, convicted of abusing a 6-year-old, and Michael Hughes, 55, convicted of possessing child pornography in 2007.
Local residents have reported seeing fights, have been verbally abused or harassed, seen people spitting – despite the ongoing pandemic – and have also seen people looking for, or using drugs.
Nearly 300 homeless drug and alcohol addicts have reportedly been living at the Lucerne alone since last week, with one homeless man -Angel Ortiz, 60 – telling The Post ‘whatever drug you can imagine is done there.’
Garbage piles on NYC sidewalks attracting rats and raccoons after the sanitation department’s budget was cut by $106million
Trash has been accumulating across New York City after the budget of the sanitation department was cut by more than $100million.
Photos show bags filled with leftover food scraps, cans and bottles piled high on sidewalks or overflowing out of corner litter baskets.
Dead rats have been found among the waste and raccoons have been spotted climbing out of garbage cans.
It comes after City Hall slashed $106 million from the sanitation department’s budget, which reduced pickup for trash cans by 60 percent, reported CBS 2 New York.
Soho, Manhattan: Cardboard boxes and black trash bags line a sidewalk on Broadway and Bleecker Street on July 31
Chelsea, Manhattan: An overflowing garbage can is pictured on W. 21st Street and 7th Avenue Friday
According to Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, the city is facing a huge deficit and needed to make significant cuts to lower costs.
‘We have a lot less resources than we did in the prior fiscal year,’ she told CBS 2 New York.
Although there have been no changes to curbside trash and recycling pickups, Garcia says more rubbish has been left out than there was pre-pandemic.
‘Our trucks are filling up very quickly as we make it around the route in some neighborhoods because people are home,’ she said.
Gravesend, Brooklyn: Overflowing trash waiting for pick up covers the sidewalk near 86th Street under the El train
Flatbush, Brooklyn: Piles of garbage and recycling are pictured overflowing on the sidewalk outside buildings on Friday
Midtown Manhattan: New York City slashed $106 million to the sanitation department’s budget to get costs under control. Bags of garbage litter the sidewalk outside a Whole Foods Market on July 30
However, litter baskets on street corners will no longer be emptied on Sundays, and there will be fewer truck pickups on weekdays and holidays.
‘One of the things we did with our reduced number of basket trucks is really take a look at how we were distributing them,’ Garcia told the station.
‘We tried to go in and make sure we were distributing by the number of litter baskets any one has and match the service to the number of basket.’
The organics collection program will be suspended for a year and officials are planning to eliminate the curbside collection program of electronics.
Midtown Manhattan: Trash bags line the corner of West 26th Street and 7th Avenue in New York City on July 31
Dead rats have been found among the waste-covered sidewalks (left) and raccoons have been spotted climbing out of garbage cans (right)
Chelsea, Manhattan: Garbage, some of it collected by the homeless, is seen on West 15th Street and 7th Avenue on July 31
Street cleanings, which have been suspended for the last three months, will return but will only be once a week instead of the typical twice a week.
The department is also reducing collection services in rat mitigation zones – areas meant to reduce the city’s rat population by 25 percent, from four days a week pick-up, to three days a week pick-up.
However, the return of outdoor dining combined with fewer trash pickups have led to an excessive rat problem.
City data shows that rat sightings increased from less than 1,000 in April 2020 to 1,658 in June 2020.
Rats, which like to eat garbage, carry bacteria and viruses that can cause serious illnesses such as fever, diarrhea and food poisoning.