N90s: Shake-Up at 95th St Homeless Shelter; New Precinct Commander Quits
Freedom House to get new operator, City reports
Aguila, the operator responsible for the disastrous Freedom House homeless shelter at is about to be “re-accommodated” — in other words, they’ve been asked to leave.
There is wide agreement among our neighbors, including many of the SRO tenants who live at Freedom House, 316 West 95th Street, that since the shelter opened in late summer 2012, it has been the source of open drug dealing, crime, mayhem, aggressive panhandling and noise in the West 90s neighborhood.
To address these urgent issues, Council Member Helen Rosenthal arranged a meeting last week attended by Daniel Tietz, Chief Special Services Officer for the Human Resources Administration (HRA), Jacquelyn Kilmer, CEO, Harlem United, Community Board 7 Chair Roberta Semer, District Manager Penny Ryan and Neighborhood In The Nineties (N90s) President Aaron Biller.
While the meeting included several other executives and on-site managers from Harlem United and Bailey House, which jointly operate the adjoining veterans’ residence at 330 West 95th Street, and community affairs officers from the NYPD 24th Precinct, Aguila and Freedom House management were not present.
The meeting did produce the first tangible signs that the City intends to address the five years of hell, in the building, and on the streets, created by this poorly managed shelter.
HRA’s Mr. Tietz announced at the meeting that the landlord of Freedom House had asked its service provider, Aguila to withdraw from its contract, but stay on until a new provider is selected. While no one used the Trumpian phrase, “you’re fired,” the result of C.M. Rosenthal’s efforts to force the City to fix Freedom House has achieved a result.
The next steps, Mr. Tietz of HRA says, are:
- The City is giving the community input in selecting a new provider, a major concession given the opacity of City homeless shelter operations
- A Freedom House Community Advisory Board (CAB) to monitor Freedom House operations. N90s has been invited to join the CAB.
If You See Something, Please Report It to 911 or 311
The neighborhood is being asked by City officials and the NYPD to better substantiate the problems at the Freedom House shelter, and the problems it causes in the neighborhood — drug dealing, mayhem, noise, acting out in the street and in retail shops, aggressive panhandling, etc.
While many people want results, conditions in our neighborhood will not improve unless we get in the habit of making a call to 911 or 311, when we see or experience unlawful behaviors. These calls become a key part of statistics used to allocate police and City resources. Many City officials and elected representatives have told N90s that the only way to clean up the shelter and the surrounding neighborhood is to make 911 or 311 calls.
Neighbors have told us about a man at the Chase Bank ATM. He holds the door in off hours, then points to people telling him how much money he expects them to withdraw for him. While this is tantamount to robbery, it apparently has gone unreported. Anecdotes will not help us improve our beautiful neighborhood.
Make a simple call to 311 or 911–you don’t have to leave a name, just report the incident.
Interregnum at 24th Police Precinct
This past week, Captain Burke, Commanding Officer of the 24th Precinct abruptly resigned his command. NYPD policy usually rotates precinct commanders every 24-30 months. Captain Burke succeeded Deputy Inspector Marlon Larin last Fall, making his tenure one of the briefest in 24th Precinct history.
The precinct, at this writing, also has no executive officer (XO), so the two top positions are vacant. Council Member Rosenthal has spoken to Police Commissioner James O’Neill, urging him to make a replacement quickly.
Council Member Rosenthal Town Hall April 25th
This is an opportunity to directly address the City’s decision-makers on the issues:
- Homeless Shelters
- Street Lamps (why is it taking so long to replace a non-working fixture?)
- Need for STOP signs
- Dangerous intersections
- Environmental Protection
- Mental Health
- NYCHA (Housing Authority)
- Housing Preservation and Development
- Con Edison (electric, gas service, WEA pipeline project)
Representatives from all of the above entities will be responding to questions at the Helen Rosenthal Town Hall on Tuesday, April 25th, 6 to 9 PM at the Center at West Park, 165 West 86th Street (corner of Amsterdam). To RSVP, or submit a question in advance (best way to ensure your issue is addressed), visit:
www.HelenRosenthal.com. Or call the Council Member’s office, 212.872.0282 (x206).
In Memory of Amanda Larrick, Neighborhood Leader
Our neighbors are saddened to learn of the passing of Amanda Larrick, 76. For many years, Amanda led the volunteers or “park tenders” who revitalized the Joan of Arc Island of Riverside Park, West 91st to West 95th Streets. (PHOTO: Amanda, on right, wearing a lavender scarf, at the December 2015 ceremony marking 100th anniversary of Joan of Statue).
Ms. Larrick was also active in the West 93rd Street Block Association, a group that kept a watchful eye over the community and organized weekly street cleanups.
Randy Hugill, chair of the Joan of Arc Statue Committee announced that its May 30th “La Fêtes de Jeanne d’Arc: Celebrate Summer at Joan of Arc Island Park” will honor Amanda. The purpose of the event, held from 5 to 8 pm is to reacquaint the community with the Joan of Arc Statue Committee and its efforts to raise the needed funds to preserve and restore the statue and its parkland surround.