2016-03-23 / Front Page

Civics: Shelter Takes Steps To Increase Security

By Liz Goff
Dutch Kills Civic Association officials say operators are making small strides in an effort to curb violence at a homeless shelter located in the Long Island City community.

Group president, Thea Romano, said operators of a shelter located in the former Verve Hotel at 40-03 29th Street have stepped up security patrols in the area and have transferred 16 residents to other facilities since Feb. 26, when Romano called an emergency meeting to address neighborhood concerns.

Security guards are patrolling the area in marked vehicles, Romano said. “The guards drive through local streets at unspecified times to help deter criminal activity by shelter residents.”

Romano said shelter operators have also dedicated one floor at the facility for women and teens who are employed or seeking employment. “The women are close to becoming independent, able to live on their own,” Romano said.

Romano called the Feb. 26 meeting with local lawmakers, city officials and community leaders to shed light on spiraling criminal activity in and around the shelter.

Police officials at the meeting said between January 1 and February 25, officers at the 114th Precinct were called to the shelter more than 300 times. Shelter security guards placed 225 of those 911 calls, an NYPD source said. The remaining 125 calls came from local merchants and residents reporting criminal activity or other conditions involving shelter residents, the source said. Police arrested 10-to-12 shelter residents as a result of those 911 calls.

A census released by shelter management showed that 87 shelter clients have a history of substance abuse, 89 clients suffer from a form of mental illness, 42 of the women are employment ready, 32 women are employed, 93 clients are in mental health treatment and 56 are “housing ready.”

Romano said Dutch Kills officials were told that clients would have to meet strict criteria to enter the shelter. “We were told the shelter would offer a 10-month program that would prepare the women for a new life. And we know now that we were duped,” Romano said.

Dutch Kills executive director George Stamatiades is calling on the deBlasio administration to clearly define the meaning of homelessness.

“It seems that shelters are not being used for homeless people, people who lost their home in a fire, through eviction or some other catastrophe,” Stamatiades said. “The city has to stop dumping everyone in the shelter system and place people who need medical assistance, drug or mental illness treatment in appropriate facilities.”

Stamatiades said the city is wasting money on security that would be better spent on providing treatment for those in need. “Why should the city have to pay for all of this security at shelters for hard-working people who have suffered a tragedy? There are cities in this country that have less security than New York City has in its homeless shelters,” Stamatiades said. What’s wrong with this picture?”

Romano said the deBlasio administration is responsible for many of the problems at the Dutch Kills homeless shelter

When the mayor signed an emergency declaration to open the shelter, he eliminated the need for the use of criteria in the resident selection process, Romano said. “The shelter operator was then forced to take in people who are not matched to programs offered at the facility. Residents who can’t be matched to a program can’t be required to participate, Romano said.

The administration created an atmosphere at the shelter where many residents are not interested in making a new life for themselves, Romano said. These people should be placed in a facility that can offer them the care and services they need.”

 

 

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