The volunteer crime-fighting Guardian Angels organization met twice with residents of the Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City over the weekend to discuss maintaining neighborhood safety in the wake of thousands of homeless people — including sex offenders — being placed in more than 100 of the city’s iconic and luxury hotels.
The move is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in overcrowded homeless shelters.
“In order to defuse that ticking time bomb, we implemented a massive emergency relocation of human beings from those congregate shelters throughout the city, more than 10,000 in about eight weeks,” Steven Banks, commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) said on Thursday.
But the reaction from residents to the plan is also explosive.
“A Facebook group, in which residents have shared pictures of men urinating, masturbating and laying sprawled out on sidewalks near the hotels, has been set up and there are other complaints on Twitter,” the Daily Mail reported.
“Our community is terrified, angry and frightened,” one organizer of the 1,700 member group, Dr. Megan Martin, said in the report.
The Daily Mail reported on de Blasio’s plan, which includes $175 a night per homeless person lodged in a hotel. The project is projected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the city paying 25 percent, while American taxpayers, through FEMA, will pick up 75 percent of the tab.
The Mail reported on sex offenders being placed in hotels:
The city has not released a list of the hotels but a source told the New York Post the scheme will run until October. Among the hotels on the list are The Belleclaire, The Lucerne and The Belnord on the Upper West Side.
Local parents are particularly concerned with the ten registered sex offenders that have been accommodated in the Belleclaire as of Thursday, according to the state sex offender registry.
Included in those ten are Luis Martin, 44, who assaulted and raped a woman in 1995, Roland Butler, 62, convicted in 2013 of raping a 16-year-old girl, Eddie Daniel, 59, convicted of abused [sic] a 10-year-old in 2011, Jonathan Evans, 29, convicted of abusing a 6-year-old, and Michael Hughes, 55, convicted of possessing child pornography in 2007.
The “I Love the Upper West Side” website featured a blog and photos of the meetings between neighborhood residents and the Guardian Angels, including founder and CEO Curtis Sliwa, who is reportedly running for mayor of New York City.
“Sliwa and his Guardian Angels are credited for helping to clean up the streets in the late 1970s when the city was known as a violent and unsafe place,” the blog said, noting that some 60 angels would be patrolling the neighborhood.
But another local politician, Sara Lind, who is running for a city council position representing the Upper West Side, is supportive of the homeless/hotel plan.
“Lind is encouraging people to show up at the hotels and welcome the residents with baked goods and sidewalk chalk on Sunday morning in a show of support for them being in the neighborhood,” the blog reported.
“When asked if she would be showing up on Sunday to bring supplies or to do artwork, one UWS parent said, ‘No, and one has to wonder if those showing up to welcome the residents of the hotel are bringing their children with them.’”
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