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Precinct Asks For Help Securing Homeless Shelter After Violent Incidents Break Out

Verve

Feb. 17, 2016 By Michael Florio

The Commanding Officer of the 114 Precinct has called on the community board for help in combating crime at a women’s homeless shelter in Long Island City, following two violent incidents that broke out at the shelter last week.

Captain Peter Fortune addressed Community Board 1 at its monthly meeting Tuesday and asked the Board to reach out to the City regarding the women’s shelter in the former Verve Hotel, located at 40-03 29th Street.

Fortune informed the Board of two incidents where residents of the shelter had to be arrested, with one resident assaulting police officers.

The first incident occurred on Feb. 11, where police responded to a dispute between two roommates. As police arrived, one roommate struck the other in the head with a metal object, Fortune said.

The suspect was arrested and taken to Cornell Hospital’s psychiatric center for evaluation. Upon arrival, as the suspect was being taken out of the ambulance, she assaulted an officer.

“She head butted the officer,” Fortune said. “That officer has been out with injuries.”

While in the hospital, the suspect struck an officer numerous times with a metal IV pole and kicked him. That officer has needed treatment as well.

Then on Feb. 12, a resident refused to go through the shelter’s metal detectors and began to act aggressively, Fortune said. She broke the metal detectors and then began throwing chairs and bottles around the lobby.

She was arrested and brought to Cornell Hospital for a psychiatric exam, Fortune said.

Fortune said he subsequently spoke to the shelter contractor, the Acacia Network, and they were not aware of these incidents or arrests.

He added that the Precinct has received complaints from neighboring business owners, primarily bodega owners, who say residents from the shelter harass them.

Meanwhile, CB 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris said Acacia is supposed to be patrolling the area in a marked car but has not been doing so, instead stating that their marked car is in the shop and using an unmarked car instead. She called this “completely unacceptable” and urged a more visible security presence.

The shelter is approaching maximum capacity of 200 women, according to Fortune.

“We have to dedicate resources to go down there,” he told the Board.

“The Board can help by writing a letter to DHS and ask for a little more coordination between them and the police department,” he continued. “Communicate with them [DHS] and get us a little more help.”

When asked for comment, the DHS outlined its security operations.

“Our number one priority is ensuring the safety of our residents in shelters, as well as the surrounding communities,” a spokesperson wrote in an E-mail. “We currently have 24/7 security at this specific facility with four to six security guards on duty throughout the day.”

“We are continuing to review security needs and will continue to work with community leaders as we do so,” the spokesperson’s E-mail read.

The Acacia Network did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Following Fortune’s presentation, CB 1 decided to send a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the DHS to ask for support in ensuring the safety and health of the residents, as well as the surrounding community. Koulouris said Wednesday that they are in the process of drafting this letter.

“When we had meetings [before the shelter residents moved in], they said they would have the proper staff, the proper guidance,” she said. “We want the best management company possible for these woman so that while they’re here, they’re safe and they’re secure.”

Since the letter is not finalized, she could not speak to specifics of what they will ask for.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to be asking for yet,” Koulouris said. “We’re going to review all the options necessary to make this a good situation.”

“Our concern is the safety of the residents as well as the safety of the police and the safety of the community,” she added. “You shouldn’t have to go to bed and be afraid your roommate’s going to hit you with a metal object.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who had a representative at the Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday, said today that he had reached out to DHS about the problem and was assured by the administration additional security officers would be provided.

“The reports from the 114th Precinct are disconcerting,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “I have voiced my concerns about the shelter to the Department of Homeless Services and the Administration. And I am particularly troubled by reports that the provider of services at the shelter, Acacia, has not been doing adequate neighborhood patrols.”

“The Administration has confirmed to my office that they will be adding additional security officers at the Verve shelter,” Van Bramer said.

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55 Comments

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MRLIC

Get ready for more of these empty Hotels to change over to Shelters of some kind. Heard they were building one on 21 st 44th Drive around corner from Key Food. City pays $4,000 per family in regular shelters. I assume a pretty penny for battered women and other kinds. Overbuilding in LIC is hurting the fabric of the neighborhood.

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cc

I agree with you so much. Now, it angers me walking with my children having to hear the constant cussing and pan handling from many. I smell the weed and cigarette smoke and was called a b*** when i coughed. I loved my neighborhood and felt safe before the shelter opened up. I avoid that area now.

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cc

I agree with you so much. I live next to another shelter that I did not mind at first. Now, it angers me walking with my children having to hear the constant cussing and pan handling from many. I smell the weed and cigarette smoke and was called a b*** when i coughed. I loved my neighborhood and felt safe before the shelter opened up. I avoid that area now.

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If it walks like a duck...then it's a hamster!

Has anyone here who has commented actually been anywhere near this homeless shelter? I have! I wasn’t against it. But boy was I stupid. Some of these women (not all) have harassed me and my kids walking in and out of the deli on the corner. We have to look over our shoulders once we are in the deli and again once we walk out. Yes it’s great that there are women’s shelters…just not in your back yard, right?!

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Mel

Geez some of you sound cold hearted! What if it were you ha, becoming homeless and you had no where to go? There are lots of hotels that can’t fill their rooms and apartments that are vacant for long periods of time. Why not make them useful! Doesn’t matter what neighborhood anymore as we are seeing homeless people everywhere on our doorstep. Be humane, try it it doesn’t hurt one bit!
And now I’m ready for the dislikes coming!

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Frank

Who is paying top dollar for this. Yep, we the taxpayers. I’d rather they stood vacant instead of transferring the cost burden from the business to the taxpayer.

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Mel

So you’d rather see the homeless on the streets left to die! We all pay taxes yes and taxes are what keep this town and others afloat! I really hope that you don’t ever succomb to loosing your job & home! Sone have family support or of others
and some truly and honestly don’t! We all play a part in humanity! You just never know what will happen from one day to the next. I would suggest you get a job off the books so you won’t have to be part of a community and support others!

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Frank

There are many cheaper solutions to these hotels that do not involve leaving the homeless on the street to die. Reverting to hyperbole simply means you have no argument beyond the emotional. The reality is that budgets are tight and many homeless will never be much more than a burden to the state. Sorry if that strikes your bleeding heart as cruel, but it is a reflection of the way the world is.

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Mel

I suggest that you work off the books to assure that your tax paying dollars won’t go towards the community! Paying taxes gives to our community, need I make a list of who it supports? No ! You and your not alone would rather see the homeless perish right in front of your eyes!

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papo

I hate to be so morbid but people cannot continue to live above their means. That’s partly why the country is in this situation. Also, the rich can’t continue to get over like a fat rat and not expect consequences. Everything happens for a reason and this had to happen.

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papi

I hate to be so MORBID but people cannot continue to live above their means. That’s partly why the country is in this situation. Also, the rich can’t continue to get over like a fat rat and not expect consequences. Everything happens for a reason and this had to happen.

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Proud Dutch Killer

Why are we surprised that a “for profit” company chooses to not employ adequate security to protect this enterprise? Of course it puts other residents at risk, but even more so it puts law abiding residents of Dutch Kills at risk. This began during the rezoning debacle in 2008 when our leadership did nothing to protect the residential core of Dutch Kills, allowing City Planners to force almost 20 NEW HIGHRISE hotels in an 8 block radius. We MUST put the City of NY on notice, that we will not tolerate one more blow against the safety of our community, not another hotel to transform into another shelter run by a greedy company. NO MORE!

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LIC+Asto resident

According to Travelocity, LIC is the home of 28 hotels. If there aren’t enough tourist they won’t make a profit and will offer themselves to the city. The city becomes the new landlord, pays the rent and fills the spaces with homeless.
According to ny.curbed.com LIC has over 28 towers in construction. The market will get saturated and if landlords cannot fill them up they too will turn to the city to look for a cheap deal. Check out who’s gonna move in. Check out who’s gonna pump next to you in the gym.
Some of what goes up will come down!

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Astoria Resident

“We want the best management company possible for these woman so that while they’re here, they’re safe and they’re secure.” Priceless. Wasn’t it 2 of these woman who were arrested?

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Hi mom!

I thought the same thing. They make it seem like a maniac walked in off the street and terrorized these women.

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RRT

Not to sound cynical as that is far from my intention here but – things will only worsen before becoming better.
#countonit

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margine

Where is the security footage? I thought cops now had cameras. They should really post it on line lol

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mano

Probably occurred during the freezing temps. I am sure by spring the mentally ill will have moved back to the streets and the shelter will be praised for less incidents.

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hj

This probably happened during the freezing temperatures when people were either forced to go to the shelter or were staying there as a last resort. I am sure once the weather gets warmer a lot of the mentally ill will chose to live back to the streets or subways. Then, the city and shelter will report how crime and incidents were down and that the problem has been resolved.

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Lic Res

Where are all the homeless coming from? Is the media checking on this? Are the homeless all displaced New Yorkers or are people moving to New York City to get free housing?

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I think

That was LicRes point. If it it’s a legal right, are people moving here just for that right? If that’s the case, every person who pays taxes in NY should care. people need help, I get it. Help and free ride are different.

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lic

The majority are just being housed there until an affordable housing apt becomes available. Most are displaced new yorkers. Think of it as a waiting room with beds and toilets.

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Mel

Are you for real? Don’t you know what’s going on around you,? Geez hello people are being displaced out of their residences due to extreme gentrification, omg! Yes New Yorkers unlike the transplants that have invaded Lic and NYC!

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Frank

Geez, people might need to move to a more affordable neighborhood. Oh, the horror! Please, go transplant yourself elsewhere.

Reply
well

The vast majority of people do not live near homeless shelters. Hence, politicians and voters care more about getting the homeless off the streets. Most of these places are becoming permanent. Even a lot of renters in the area paying high rents see it as the right thing to do and do not mind (hardly any protests).

Reply
faceit

Very few people outside a shelter neighborhood care. Nowadays, middle class communities including homeowners and business have very little say. The vast majority of people do not live near shelters and most of those voters look at it as politicians trying to keep the homeless off the street. So this mayor and his officials do what they seem fit. It is politically incorrect to be against housing the homeless. These shelters have become waiting rooms with beds and toilets for affordable housing. Many businesses such as food/take out and markets also profit because of ebt and food vouchers. The old model of housing the homeless near low income hoods was/is not working. This is a way of scattering the poor/homeless/mentally-ill/drug addicts throughout “better” neighborhoods and spreading the burden throughout the city and precincts. Do not buy near hotels/motels.

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JC

We have got to stop these hotels from becoming homeless shelters in our area.
FYI, there is another new homeless shelter, 8 story, going up at 21-16 44th drive.

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well

Most people do not live near a homeless shelter and want the homeless off the streets. Therefore, city politicians do as they see fit to benefit the voting majority. Shelter communities have little say. Lets be real, the majority of people in the area are renting. Many renters are not taking the time to protest. You will find that a good number of them are too busy working and their own lives and do not mind the city helping those in need.

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yngster

Most people in the area are young and renters. As long as it is not at their doorstep most do not care and want the homeless off the streets.

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brad

We can’t have real life poverty and mental illness being thrown in their bubble huh? — to you affluent jerks. You can’t sweep the poor under the rug! When are you going to realize these are people too!?

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Frank

The question isn’t sweeping the poor under the rug. It is why the homeless are being housed here. People are paying good money to live in the neighborhood and have every right to complain about the equivalent of a festering sore of crime in their neighborhood.The same goes for Queensbridge. Let’s put it this way: If you pay for a BMW and get a Kia, would you think that is right?

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Carmen

Point: yes, shelters with caring, adequate services, needed social services, i side security,local police supervision a must as all homeless deserve a home but hotel-converted and other under used buildings for homeless shelters should ALSO BE LOCATED ELSEWHERE LIKE FINANCIAL DIST., SOHO, WESTSIDE, UES and funded in part by the very wealthy residents of these areas! After all, isn’t it all about community involvement and putting their money towards the good of every New Yorker, not just a select few?

Lic Res

Why are all these homeless shelters being located in Queens? Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Glendale, LIC, Maspeth, all middle class areas with good public schools. Socioeconomic engineering?

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Straight Dope

The operators of these shelters and city officials use the cover of the crazy pace of development in these neighborhoods to ram the shelters through and get them built in Queens. The neighborhoods here are constantly changing, and people who live here are mainly transients who will move in a couple of years. It’s the perfect scenario for dumping unappealing uses on unsuspecting residents.

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openeyes

More space (old hotels) to house them in these areas. Voting majority do not live near shelters so politicians do not worry about their careers.

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sam

Because many in middle class areas are to busy working and do not have the time to invest in what is happening a couple blocks away.

Reply

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