AMID PROTEST, BRATTON ENDS RAIDS ON UPPER WEST SIDE HOMELESS SHELTERS

homeless rally
A shelter resident spoke at a rally in front of the Freedom House shelter on Wednesday.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said that the city will stop raiding homeless shelters, following an early-morning raid at an Upper West Side shelter last month that netted 22 arrests. Advocates for the homeless have said that the raids are too disruptive and frightening to people living at the shelters, and that arrest warrants can be served in less dramatic ways.

Bratton said at a press conference that he had heard about the raids and did not like the idea, according to the Daily News.

“I got concerned about the idea of going into the shelter to serve various warrants on individuals they thought might be in the shelter,” he said.

“Well intended, but something that I’m not supportive of,” he added. “So that practice in that precinct, has in fact, ended. We will try to find other ways to deal with this crime problem.”

Captain Marlon Larin, the commander at the 24th precinct said at a community council meeting in Wednesday night that he had gotten the message: “The message was conveyed to me. There won’t be any more raids in the immediate future.”

The Daily News says these raids have been going on for years, and that the DHS doesn’t do criminal background checks when residents are first admitted into the shelter system: “The Department of Homeless Services does not run criminal background checks on New Yorkers who check into emergency housing. Instead, the agency has allowed cops to conduct unannounced sweeps of its facilities for years.”

At a protest on Wednesday night in front of the Freedom House shelter at 316 and 330 West 95th street where the arrests took place, a few dozen homeless people and advocates for the homeless spoke out against the raids.

homeless rally2“They bang on the door at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning,” said Arvenetta Henry, who lives at another city shelter. “It’s very hard to get back to sleep.”

The warrants they serve “are never something that’s really serious,” she added. “Like they fell asleep on the subway. Police don’t have to treat them like a hardcore criminal.”

“It’s a scary thing getting woken up at 4 in the morning,” said another homeless woman speaking with the advocacy group Picture the Homeless. “These raids don’t make anyone safer.”

A homeless resident at Freedom House said that the shelter — where the city pays $3,700 a month per room — was very dirty, with vermin running around. He said that there were no stoves and just one microwave for the nearly 400 people in his building. “Where’s this money going? Why can’t they put me in a studio somewhere?”

The protestors marched from the shelter on 95th street to the monthly precinct meeting on West 100th street and confronted Larin with their complaints.

Larin said that he ordered the raids because of an uptick in crime in the area, with a particular spike in burglaries and car break-ins. The 24th precinct worked with the Department of Homeless Services to get a list of the people at the shelter and then run criminal checks against their names. In total, police found that 35 people at the shelter — nearly 10% of the population — had some sort of open arrest warrant, meaning there is a warrant out for their arrest so their charge can be adjudicated. “That is unprecedented,” Larin said of the high percentage of people with open warrants. “You don’t see that in a private building where a high amount of residents have not returned to court.” (Homeless advocates had said that NYPD would not have raided another kind of private building to find open warrants).

The 22 people who were rounded up had criminal histories that included burglaries and similar crimes, Larin said. “The fact remains,” he added, “that they must be remanded to court. They must go to court. That was very hard for me to ignore.”

“This operation was not an assault on the undomiciled,” he added. “It was a response to a criminal element.”

Picture the Homeless argues that the city should set up a program in Manhattan like one in Brooklyn called Project Safe Surrender where people can turn themselves in and have smaller crimes taken care of without the disruption. A representative from the District Attorney’s office said they’re looking into that possibility.

NEWS | 47 comments | permalink
    1. UWS Mom says:

      This is outrageous. Let Captain Larin and the fab officers at the 24 do their jobs, as they’re just trying to control the raging crime in the West 90’s. “They bang on the door at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning,” said Arvenetta Henry, who lives at another city shelter. “It’s very hard to get back to sleep.”
      Yes, and it’s hard for tax paying residents who have to get up for WORK to make money to pay taxes for your support and get their kids off to school to get back to sleep with the sound of bottles breaking, lunatics screaming, gunshots and police sirens ALL NIGHT. So, hey, sorry for your inconvenience shelter residents. Why don’t you just turn over the criminals in your midst, as I’m sure there are lots of otherwise innocent people caught up in this. Bash on commenters like B. Bernstein, as I’m sure you’ll find this objectionable:) Good luck selling your coops after this.

      • LuftMensch says:

        Thank you UWS Mom. The West 90s are changing and are clearly in decline. No one can ignore the empirical data indicating more crime, more dirt, and more homelessness. Bernstein and the rest of the left siders who chose to ignore this can be defined by one simple word and one only:

        MESHUGAH!

      • Facts says:

        Please see below. These are facts. Your rants are not. Crime is down and I feel safer than ever.

        http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/crime_statistics/cs024pct.pdf

        Year to date (from 2014 to 2013) for violent crime:
        Murder – there was 1 this year and none last year. Doesn’t see like any drastic uptick. It is just 1 more than last year
        Rape – There was 5 this year and 4 last year. Doesn’t see like any drastic uptick. It is just 1 more than last year
        Robbery – DOWN 33.8%
        Felony Assault – DOWN 30%
        Misd. Assault – DOWN 19.6%
        Misd. Sex Crimes – DOWN 33.3%
        Shooting Vic and Inc. – there was 1 this year and none last year. Doesn’t see like any drastic uptick. It is just 1 more than last year, and most probably all one incident in conjunction with the murder.

        As for non-violent crime, burglaries surely went up and some minor upticks in other larceny. But when you look at the 2 and 5 year difference, it is not much at all.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          thank you Mr or Ms FACTS!!

          of course these are for the entire 24th Precinct. people are citing so many murders in the last few years around W. 95th in the comments. given since 1/1/2013 there have been a total of 3 murders in the 24th Precinct, i guess they would have to argue that ALL of them were on or around w. 95th?

          • Nora Flickinger says:

            Spot on, Bruce. The murders at the St. Louis (94th), the Narragansett (93) and the Camden (95th) would account for all the murders in the 24th Precinct. So in fact, all of them have been around 95th. “ALL” happened in supportive housing/shelter facilities paid for by the City by people imported to the neighborhood. The victims all long time residents.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              thank you Nora.

              the murder in the St Louis (94th) was a case of domestic violence and i don’t think the murderer was “imported into the neighborhood.” it was the victim’s boyfriend!

              you might recall that at the time there were some very nasty postings made on this site about this case… to the extent that the victim’s daughter had to write in to correct the record.

              I will look into the facts on the other two cases. i don’t think the Camden is “supportive housing.”

        • Truth teller says:

          If those are truly the facts, why is Chief Larin talking about a spike in burglaries and car breakins in the area? Do you think he’s lying?

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            please read the last paragraph of Mr/Ms FACTS’s statement. He/she addressed this.

    2. Jeremy says:

      “’I got concerned about the idea of going into the shelter to serve various warrants on individuals they thought might be in the shelter,’ [Bratton] said.”

      Is that not an insane position for a police Commissioner to take? These people are not being served because they fell asleep on the subway – they are being served because they’re trying to evade the justice process. And still, our local electeds don’t care. Helen Rosenthal is completely fixated on traffic, Linda Rosenthal is working on getting free gym memberships added to the US Constitution, and Gale Brewer is actually on the side of the fugitive residents. Crazy days.

    3. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      > “A homeless resident at Freedom House said that the shelter — where the city pays $3,700 a month per room — was very dirty, with vermin running around.”

      Why can’t some of the residents who spend the day hanging out on the street take the time to clean their $3700 apartments provided by the tax payers? Shut this thing down I say.

    4. Paul RL says:

      Well, the lunatics have officially taken over the asylum. Why are our politicians doing everything they can to chase out tax-paying citizens and families from the West ’90’s? Where did everything go so wrong?

    5. UWS MOM2 says:

      Let the cops do their job. Criminals should not be receiving any “freedom” housing anyway if they have warrants. Many of the residents scare me enough, that I can’t walk by the shelters to my apartment anymore. There is drug use, cursing, ranting, garbage, loitering, my laundry deliverer was assaulted, my neighbor ribbed at knifepoint. This never happened before these houses. By the way, this hard-working taxpayer did not appreciate the rally blocking my way home last night. Is the city going to pay my broker when I move because of these shelters I pay for out of my taxes?

    6. Jason says:

      Is there a group or organization in the west 90’s that can or will start a petition and/or campaign to get our “leadership’s” attention focused on the concerns of residents/taxpayers/families for their safety in the neighborhood? It seems there are plenty of people on the other side who have the ear of the Mayor’s office and 1PP, but is anyone fighting for John Q taxpayer?

      • Jeremy says:

        I guess that Neighborhood in the 90s is the closest thing, but I know some people think they’re not very transparent, and they spent a lot of energy earlier this year on the traffic stuff, with a POV that could be polarizing.

        I guess *we* are the group. It wouldn’t be too hard to set up a website that aggregates our energy and influence, but someone has to take the initiative.

    7. Bruce Bernstein says:

      i attended the rally and the follow-up march to the NYPD 24th precinct, where the homeless and PTH activists asked questions and received responses from Capt Larin at the 24th precinct community council. It was an amazing experience in NYC local govt and I thank Avi / West Side Rag for letting me know about it so I could attend. I also got to meet Avi and appreciate his calm demeanor even when I had pointed words.

      the report above is excellent and factual. I will add some personal comments when I get a chance. btw, noone got “blocked” on their way home. The protesters were as polite as could be and all pedestrians could walk through.

    8. Resident says:

      This is all taking away attention from the real problem. This shelter was put in illegally.

      There are so many issues with this shelter that it must go.

      The homeless need support but this is not the solution.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        Dear Resident,

        NONE of the shelters in NYC is a long term solution. said solution is affordable housing and supportive housing. (Stop evictions from the Williams!) And this shelter WAS put in illegally, by Bloomberg, as Gale Brewer has pointed out. And it apparently has an avaricious landlord, and the homeless are not being served well.

        In the meantime, we have to stop dehumanization and demonization of the homeless, and work with them as our neighbors. treat them as neighbors.

        Would you feel better about this shelter (which will soon be one building, not two) if conditions were improved, as per PTH? or if it was converted back to an SRO with a certain # of homeless occupants with housing vouchers? I would be fine with any of those but i don’t think many of the “demonizers” would be.

        they also want to evict supportive housing in the neighborhood, which IS a part of the solution.

        • Jeremy says:

          I would feel better if their advocates didn’t infantilize them by suggesting that they are incapable of understanding their warrant obligations.

          It’s challenging to see past these “advocacy” groups that are arguing that the shelter residents are not able to take responsibility for themselves and act as responsible as non-shelter residents faced with criminal charges.

          For most of us, this absurd protest of lawful warrant service is a nonstarter in terms of dialogue or getting the neighborhood to compromise about quality of life for local residents.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            for the record, there were plenty of 95th Street shelter residents who took part in the protest, and the residents of the shelter spoke at the NYPD community board — not just the so-called “advocates.” they were all well acquainted with the law, which they explained in depth when they spoke.

          • Don Arrup says:

            I have resided at the Continental Studios aka Freedom House West for 27 years, work, pay taxes and am involved in community affairs. I am a former Pre School Teacher and free lance journalist. Other Pre School Teachers have resided here for years. We are not paid much and live frugally. Other permanent residents include some of your doormen, housekeepers, nannies, clerks, chefs of our neighborhood businesses and state and city employees.

            I personally have been awakened by the 24th Precinct twice in the last two years. Once on what I suppose was a false tip and the other as part of a campaign of harassment by the homeless clients in my hall who complained that I was smoking in my room which they knew I had every right to do.

            The officers of the 24th Precinct were as I have always found them to be in my decades here polite, patient and professional. After my life was repeatedly threatened by a homeless man in our hall in front of two “security guards” who did not report it to the police I was counseled by Officer Jones of the Precinct’s Community Affairs in how to both conduct and protect myself in this situation.

            Threats of violence are grounds for expulsion according to DHS manual. The young man who threatened me in front of the guards remained in my hall for months after and probably only was moved then because of intervention from Gale Brewer. My complaints to Housing Solutions were never answered.

            Many of my fellow permanent residents have been threatened by the homeless clients. We have endured racial slurs, people acting out, fights and theft of our property. When my cookware was stolen the first week they arrived I asked to see the video tape from the camera in our hall and was told that it could not be accessed.

            Most of the homeless clients I’ve dealt with have been polite and well mannered but Housing Solutions appears to not care if any of their clients are problems. They remain. Often are just shuffled to another room in the building and the permanent residents concerns are ignored. The woman who called the police on me for nothing was in her third room in my building.

            Every other year I receive a letter from the city stating the legal amount of rent that can be charged for my room. It isn’t over three thousand dollars or even half of that. The DHS is breaking the city’s own laws and destroying the Single Room Occupancy system which has been with us for nearly a century meeting the housing needs of single working people.

            SROs typically do have a certain small percentage of people on housing vouchers. Social Services used to have an office on our fourth floor back in the 80’s. There was a difference. The voucher folk occasionally caused problems but the management and city social workers dealt with them immediately. Now, there are too many problems and they are swept under the rug.

            If you think you see problems outside the building just contemplate what it must be like inside.

            We and our neighbors are sick of being told that the out of control people have mental problems. No kidding? Why aren’t they living in a place designed to accommodate their disability rather than be placed in a housing situation that requires more self control than your average apartment?

            The last group of homeless men brought here by the Volunteers of America included a pedophile. If the police do not do late night raids how are they supposed to catch these criminals? And even if your warrant is for something minor ignoring court orders is not.

            Again, most of the homeless clients are fine but it only takes one screamer to keep half the building awake. Most nights are quiet but I’ve been awakened by unstable clients many more times than by the police.

            I’m glad there are groups who advocate for the homeless but I wonder if they have thought this through. We have had a number of violent people in both buildings and they are a threat to everyone- rent paying residents and homeless clients alike. With nearly ten per cent of the clients with outstanding warrants the police need to stay on top of the situation.

            Housing Solutions and The Department of Homeless Services both told us plainly that it is not their policy to screen applicants for criminal records. If they do not take the responsibility (and they don’t in many areas) what tools are left to our police? Aren’t they stretched thin enough by the disastrous traffic to and from the Henry Hudson and the uptick in gang activity?

            I attended the Precinct’s meeting last night and it was a good meeting. Everyone was given an opportunity to speak and their questions were answered. I believe that the advocacy group Picture the Homeless is not from our neighborhood but they were given a hearing. I disagree with the woman who said that the raids don’t make anyone safer. I wonder how many fugitives she has in her building.

            • Jeremy says:

              @Don Arrup – This is a wonderful response. Thank you.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              Hi DOn, we spoke last night. Thank you for this great infornation, very well said.

              I was under the impression that many of the homeless speakers at the NYPD Community Council were FROM the buildings. For example, the senior gentleman on the far right of the room who spoke first; the darker-skinned man who spoke about sleep being a right; and so on.

              Am i mistaken?

            • G Gomez says:

              Don, I live next to the shelter and my windows face the shelter courtyard. I hear the screaming all the time, and I can only imagine what it’s like for you. It’s completely unfair to you and others residents like you in Freedom House (not to mention neighbors like me) to have criminals and the mentally ill running around the place with no control on them at all.

              And I agree with you 100% that the homeless advocates need to think through what they’re doing — right now, I don’t think they’re truly helping anyone.

              I will think of you the next time I call 911 to report a screaming fight in the shelter!

    9. BILL says:

      the parade has passed Bratton by. He has the name most NYers know and that is why Wilhelm selected him.

    10. Andre says:

      If they haven’t done anything wrong, they wouldn’t be afraid of being arrested. The ones with warrants should be monitored and yeah, arrested if they’re hiding in those shelters as a safe escape to their crimes. I live in the neighborhood and week after week the crimes are rising and walking on the streets are becoming more dangerous, thanks to those shelters. Send them somewhere else. We pay a lot of rent to be afraid of walking outside specially at night.

      • FACTS says:

        Please see below. These are facts. Your rants are not. Crime is down and I feel safer than ever.

        http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/crime_statistics/cs024pct.pdf

        Year to date (from 2014 to 2013) for violent crime:
        Murder – there was 1 this year and none last year. Doesn’t see like any drastic uptick. It is just 1 more than last year
        Rape – There was 5 this year and 4 last year. Doesn’t see like any drastic uptick. It is just 1 more than last year
        Robbery – DOWN 33.8%
        Felony Assault – DOWN 30%
        Misd. Assault – DOWN 19.6%
        Misd. Sex Crimes – DOWN 33.3%
        Shooting Vic and Inc. – there was 1 this year and none last year. Doesn’t see like any drastic uptick. It is just 1 more than last year, and most probably all one incident in conjunction with the murder.

        As for non-violent crime, burglaries surely went up and some minor upticks in other larceny. But when you look at the 2 and 5 year difference, it is not much at all.

    11. William says:

      So why can’t DOH vet these people for warrants before shipping them to so called “Freedom house”? What about the freedom and safety of the residents of the area, as well as the law abiding residents of Freedom house? Oh, and what about the money paid to FJC security? Is that on top of the $3700 per month? Shameful.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        Hi Bill,

        As you well know, the $3,700 per month per family (per unit) is divided down the middle between the landlord and the services company — the latter was the company that was run by Hess until he died recently. i am forgetting the name of the company. I am sure you know it.

        it probably is too high and a bad model for homeless services — it is the Bloomberg model — but let’s just be accurate about the numbers. there are enough people on this site who are inaccurate, wildly — we don’t have to be.

        I am assuming that the Security fee comes out of the services company. I would be interested if you have any info otherwise. You are implying that it is an “add on” and NYC is paying even more than $3,700 per month per unit.

        • William says:

          Bruce: I am saying it would be helpful to know if the security costs are included in the $3700 or not. If they are not, the case for permanent affordable housing is made even more compelling, and this model even more obsolete.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            Bill: would a return to SRO status, with vouchers (and presumably services) for homeless, in those buildings be acceptable to you? what if it was 50% or more homeless?

            De Blasio supported a voucher program during the election.

            we need more supportive housing — that works, we know it — but a) it is VERY expensive and b) the “antis” will still be anti.

    12. Jeff says:

      This place has to go. It is not fair on the hard working people in the area who had this shelter forced on them.

      Why not have a local vote and see if the residents support the shelter??

      • Agree Agree says:

        100% agree.

        This shelter was wrong from the start. The community just has to accept the crime in the area?

        No way.

        • FACTS says:

          Please see below. These are facts. Your rants are not. Crime is down and I feel safer than ever.

          http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/crime_statistics/cs024pct.pdf

          Year to date (from 2014 to 2013) for violent crime:
          Murder – there was 1 this year and none last year. Doesn’t see like any drastic uptick. It is just 1 more than last year
          Rape – There was 5 this year and 4 last year. Doesn’t see like any drastic uptick. It is just 1 more than last year
          Robbery – DOWN 33.8%
          Felony Assault – DOWN 30%
          Misd. Assault – DOWN 19.6%
          Misd. Sex Crimes – DOWN 33.3%
          Shooting Vic and Inc. – there was 1 this year and none last year. Doesn’t see like any drastic uptick. It is just 1 more than last year, and most probably all one incident in conjunction with the murder.

          As for non-violent crime, burglaries surely went up and some minor upticks in other larceny. But when you look at the 2 and 5 year difference, it is not much at all.

    13. webot says:

      The sense of entitlement in this City knows no bounds.

    14. Tom says:

      DOH and Bratton have essentially granted asylum to all criminals with this move. Wait till word spreads across the city. If you have a warrant, plead homelessness, get a free apartment and the police can’t touch you.
      PRICELESS.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        I don’t think that was Bratton’s decision. it was to end raids OF THIS TYPE: mass raids at 4 AM.

        Department of Homeless passes all warrant information on to the police, we were told last night. they know who has outstanding warrants in the buildings and can go get the people at any time.

        • Tom says:

          Stand corrected. So in theory, mass raid at 10am would be acceptable?

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            i think NYPD going after particular people and/or groups of people with outstanding warrants is obviously acceptable. the issue was these sort of random “sweeps”. also obviously, doing it in the middle of the night raises concerns and scares people. I know Don Arrup, who is a resident of the building, said above that he was more afraid of some of the residents. And his opionion matters.

            look, i think everyone — the homeless, the SRO tenants, the residents of the block — wants to get the trouble makers out of those buildings. I can’t imagine PTH would disagree with that.

    15. Chris says:

      “Where’s this money going? Why can’t they put me in a studio somewhere?”

      Ugh.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        ummmm…. isn’t that the point that many other people are making? that $3,700 per unit per month is a huge waste of money?

        I’m not sure why that deserves an “ugh”.

        • LincolnSq says:

          I think the “ugh” comes from the sense of entitlement that the resident exudes with that comment.

    16. Paul RL says:

      It’s fruitless to argue with those who continually deny our neighborhood’s problems, or are actually blind to what is happening right under their noses. They are as much a danger to this neighborhood as the criminals themselves.

      For what it’s worth, below is a link to Commissioner Bratton’s contact info. Implore him to allow the 24th Precinct to do their job, including continuing the raids on Freedom House or anywhere else they see fit. People with outstanding arrest warrants, homeless or not, have no place as neighbors on any streets, much less ours, where so many families and children reside and go to school.

      Commissioner Bratton’s Contact Info:
      http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mailnypd.html

    17. lkj says:

      A homeless resident at Freedom House said that the shelter — where the city pays $3,700 a month per room — was very dirty, with vermin running around. He said that there were no stoves and just one microwave for the nearly 400 people in his building. “Where’s this money going? Why can’t they put me in a studio somewhere?”
      I thought the number had been reported to be $8,000? Who really knows… Someone’s making out like a bandit on crack and it aint the homeless.

    18. flf says:

      What proof is there that people who get tickets from the police for “sleeping on the subway” are the same people who brake into cars or rob people?
      This is outrageous behavior from the police.
      Why is there not a criminal investigation into the enormously inflated costs associated with housing a homeless person in a filthy building with no amenities for an alleged price of $3,700 a month??

    19. William says:

      For those unaware of the ownership of FH, follow this link

      http://nymag.com/news/features/podolsky-homeless-shelters-2013-12/index2.html

    20. Scott says:

      “Why can’t they put me in a studio somewhere?”

      Exactly. You’re “homeless” so taxpayers owe you an apartment in the most expensive city in the country. Would you like polished hardwood floors and open sky views? Welcome to the entitlement culture.

    21. Bruce Bernstein says:

      a crime spree was targeted by the 24th precinct at two youth hostels and at the New York Sports Club!

      So I wonder if there will be the same sorts of venom directed towards peopel who frequent these places. Shouyld we drive all youth hostels and private gyms out of the neighborhood?

      http://nypress.com/crime-spree-at-u-w-s-hostels/