By Bill Parry
The shelter for homeless women in Dutch Kills, which opened in October, has been the scene of some violent episodes in recent weeks. Several residents and police officers were injured at Pam’s Settlement, at the former Verve Hotel, at 40-03 29th St., police said.
“We have seen a few incidents involving residents assaulting one another and damaging property,” NYPD Capt. Peter Fortune said. “Two of my officers were injured while taking police action during these events.”
The commander of the 114th Precinct in Astoria presented his case at a recent meeting of Community Board 1. On Thursday, Feb. 11, officers had to break up a dispute between two roommates, he said. One woman was arrested and taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center for evaluation, but on her way out of the shelter she head butted an officer, Fortune said.
Another officer was injured by the same woman later at the hospital, according to the captain. On Feb. 12, another resident refused to go through the shelter’s metal detector and began acting aggressively, breaking the machine and throwing chairs around the lobby, he said.
Fortune said his precinct has also received several harassment complaints from area store owners. He asked CB1 members to request better security measures from the city Department of Homeless Services.
“Our No. 1 priority is ensuring the safety of our residents in shelters as well as the surrounding communities,” DHS spokeswoman Nicole Cueto said. “We currently have 24/7 security at this specific facility with four to six security guards on duty throughout the day. As part of our 90-day review of homeless services, we are continuing to review security needs and will continue to work with community leaders as we do so.”
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), whose district includes Dutch Kills, will be keeping an eye on the situation at the former Verve Hotel.
“The reports from the 114th Precinct are disconcerting,” he said. “I have voiced my concerns about the shelter to the Department of Homeless Services and the administration. And I am particularly troubled by reports that the provider os services at the shelter, Acacia, has not been doing adequate neighborhood patrols. The administration has confirmed to my office that they will be adding additional security officers at the Verve shelter.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr