Residents filed into the Church of the Blessed Sacrament on the Upper West Side Friday to sound off about growing safety concerns.
About 700 homeless New Yorkers were moved from shelters into neighborhood hotels to better maintain social distancing, and it is dividing this community.
“There’s a lot of people who are schizophrenic and have lots of issues, and they’re in the middle of the street and they’re violent and it’s a big big quality-of-life issue,” said one resident.
Our camera was not allowed inside the public safety meeting, but dozens of residents attended, many of whom asked NYPD officers what they can do about public urination and intoxication among other issues.
The officers said they are spread thin and can only issue violations when they witness them, which they say is more challenging since the plainclothes anti-crime unit was disbanded.
“They’re doing the best they can. Whether I’m seeing open drink use with needles or many more needles in the gutter, you know with the other bottle caps and other things we see in the city I’m not ready to accept that,” said another resident.
The issue has caused a rift on the Upper West Side, with some residents starting an effort to promote respect for their new homeless neighbors. Attendees say they do want to help New Yorkers in need, but feel unsafe with the way the situation is being handled.
“I like to think of myself as somebody who is very liberal. I volunteer, I donate, and I care about people. This is just starting to get a little too close to home. When I walk my dog at night, I’m scared, I bring better spray,” said another attendee.
The officers also emphasized the fact that the NYPD no longer oversees shelter security, as the homeless outreach team was reassigned.