Civic and local leaders are trying to figure out how the city chooses clients for its homeless shelters, and why so many people with a history of mental or psychiatric conditions are dumped in the shelter system, rather than being placed in facilities where they can obtain proper care and supervision.
Case in point: a homeless shelter for 200 women located at the former Verve Hotel at 40-03 29th St. in the Dutch Kills section of Long Island City.
Just released statistics show that there are currently 180 women living in the shelter. Fifty of those women are employed and close to living on their own, while 110 to 120 women have a history of psychiatric problems.
At a meeting last week attended by representatives of shelter operator Acacia Network and community leaders, police officials reported that officers at the 114th Precinct had responded to another 291 emergency (911) calls between June 1 and September 18, each involving shelter clients. The calls ranged from felony counts and drug possession to lesser counts of harassment and resisting arrest.
“Do the math,” Dutch Kills Civic Association President George Stamatiades said. “Officers at the 114th Precinct have responded to the shelter 641 times since it opened in October 2015. Throw that number at people who complain that police response is slow.”
The fact that cops were called to the shelter 291 times in just over three months, is in itself, startling.
“But when you add to that the fact that the same officers responded to 350 similar 911 calls involving shelter residents between November 2015 and February 2016, you have to question what’s going on there,” Stamatiades said.
“Many of the calls were placed by people inside the shelter – counselors and security guards who had problems with women who became combative,” a law enforcement source said. “They called 911 when situations got out of control, or when they posed some kind of imminent danger to others.”
“A number of the calls from the shelter were ‘aided’ requests for an ambulance or medical assistance for residents,” the source said. “There were a number of calls involving disputes and other conditions that required police intervention.”
People living near the shelter made 911 calls when they spotted shelter clients exposing themselves for cash to motorists, and to remove clients who were using basement laundry rooms to have sex with “customers.”
The Patel family owns this hotel and Acacia Network runs the homeless program. Now I believe it is clear why Maspeth is fighting a shelter in their neighborhood so vehemently.