For many months, homeless individuals have been loitering at the corner of Fairview and Putnam avenues in Ridgewood — and after repeated calls for action, the city’s working to have them removed.
The homeless people have sought haven on the corner underneath the elevated tracks of the M train for some time, and are of a concern to the leaders at the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council (GRYC), the Queens Library at Ridgewood, and nearby I.S. 93 — but there isn’t much the organizations can do to make them leave.
Now, the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is stepping in to take action.
In a notice dated April 13 left on the fence at the corner, DHS announced that they will be holding a cleanup of the area on Thursday, April 20, also indicating that it may be illegal to stay at that location.
GRYC President Bob Monahan recently raised issue with the homeless group in an email to Community Board 5, outlining a number of concerns he has and asking what could be done about the situation.
In the email, Monahan cites that the people on the corner are drinking during the day, and have been seen urinating in public, as well as collecting mounds of garbage and belongings underneath the M train.
“They had a couch, an ottoman, and garbage up on the support of the M train,” Monahan told QNS in a Tuesday phone interview. “I wrote to a bunch of people asking what can be done.”
The site has since been cleaned, and there are no longer piles of trash or any signs of furniture.
The youth organizer relayed his concerns that the homeless are causing problems for the parents who bring their children to the GRYC Universal Pre-K program each morning, as well as the students who attend I.S. 93 and those that visit the Queens Library at Ridgewood.
“I have an obligation to my 4-year-olds and their parents that they are going to be safe, but I can’t guarantee that with some of the guys there,” Monahan continued. “Some are very violent. And after renovating the space, it will be a shame that no one wants to go to pre-K there because of the homeless there.”
Being homeless is not a crime, so police can only do so much. Of course, if there is an infraction the police can make an arrest, but short of that, they can only ask the homeless to move along; but they come right back within 24 hours.
Cops often visit the area and offer to bring the homeless to shelters, but they refuse.
“We have a quandary,” Monahan said. “These people don’t want to go to a shelter of any kind. They drink at all hours of the day. They pee out in public. It really is a terrible situation. I know they don’t have any place to go, but my parents can’t walk down the block without being somewhat harassed.”
Neither the MTA nor Parks Department owns the part of the sidewalk where the homeless congregate, so they are not responsible for making them leave.
“As of the date of the cleanup, you must leave this location along with your belongings,” the DHS advisory posted at the site reads. “DHS Outreach Teams will be available to assist you. DHS can provide you with temporary shelter and referrals to other services that may assist you.”
QNS has reached out to the NYPD, I.S. 93, and Queens Library at Ridgewood for statements and is awaiting responses.