By Bill Parry
After pressure from the 114th Precinct, elected officials and Community Board 1, the city Department of Homeless Services has upgraded security on Pam’s Place, the shelter for homeless women at the former Verve Hotel in Dutch Kills.
Capt. Peter Fortune, the commanding officer of the 114th Precinct, told a CB 1 meeting in February that there had been two violent incidents at the shelter during which his officers were injured, as well as several harassment complaints from area store owners.
That led to a series of meetings between the commander and officials from DHS. At a Feb. 26 meeting with the Dutch Kills Civic Association, Fortune said his officers had responded to more than 300 911 calls concerning the shelter. He has had several more meetings with DHD since.
“We have been working very closely with DHS to make Pam’s Place as safe as possible for the clients and the community,” Fortune said.
DHS said several measures have been implemented in recent days at the shelter, located at 40-03 29th St., starting with the transfer of 22 clients who were not complying with the Good Neighbor Policy. The policy continues, according to an agency spokeswoman.
Sera Security, which provides security at the shelter, has two marked vehicles surveying the premises and conducting roving auto patrols from 8 a.m. to midnights and foot patrols on a five-block radius around the shelter from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
There are currently 16 security guards on duty at the shelter, according to DHS. They work in shifts with eight officers on duty from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., eight officers on duty from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and six officers on duty from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Acacia Network, the service provider that operates the shelter, has an on-site care coordinator to coordinate health and mental health services for clients and DHS has social workers there to provide support with Client Independent Living Plans, training, technical assistance and client engagement.
Of the 200 women living at the shelter, 64 residents are participating in community day programs while 50 clients are currently employed, according to DHS.
“The incidents at the Verve shelter are deeply concerning, and I’ve been working actively on this issue with my fellow elected officials and other community leaders,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “I’m glad that the Department of Homeless Services has invested in upgrading security at Pam’s Place, to keep residents and community members safe, but more needs to be done, and we will continue that work.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr