jack black blackjack Once seemingly on its way to economic recovery, since COVD-19, New York’s “Hell’s Kitchen” neighborhood is reverting back to its days of crime and homelessness. So much so that area residents say it is looking more like a Zombie Apocalypse than a community on the rebound.
The New York Post is reporting that Hell’s Kitchen residents fear a summer of the “living dead” as thousands of vagrants that the city dumped in the neighborhood over the last year emerge from their homeless hotels.
A “sewer” and a “cesspool” is how longtime Hell’s Kitchen activist Marisa Redanty described the neighborhood in recent weeks, as the return of warm weather produced a sudden upswing in the presence of drug-addled and deranged homeless people on the streets of Midtown.
“This summer will be the night of the living dead,” she predicted.
NYPD data shows the area’s homeless hotels have already become quality-of-life hellscapes.
Police, EMS, and fire have responded to 233 calls already this year at Spring Hill Suites on West 36th Street, compared with just 22 calls at the same time last year when the city began moving shelter residents into hotels in April.
At the Four Points Sheraton on West 40th, the number of 911 calls has grown from 54 to 198.
At the now notorious Skyline Hotel on 10th Avenue, police have already responded to 392 calls in 2021 — nearly four per day — compared with 72 at the same time last year.
State records show that two Level 3 sex offenders — the most dangerous classification — are living at the Skyline, including one former member of New York state’s 100 most wanted fugitives list, just steps from three city high schools on 50th Street.
In one Hell’s Kitchen incident, 24-year-old mom Alyssa Owens was charged with killing her own 2-month old baby at the Candlewood Suites Hotel on West 39th Street in January.
The neighborhood’s homeless crisis gained nationwide attention last month when Vilma Kari, 65, was savagely attacked in broad daylight on West 43rd Street in an assault caught on viral video.
The alleged attacker, Brandon Elliott, 38, is a convicted killer who murdered his own mother in 2002 and had been living at the Four Points Sheraton on West 40th, raising concerns that other violent ex-cons are freely walking the streets of Hell’s Kitchen.
Around midnight on Friday, in the subway station under the Port Authority, a 41-year-old man was stabbed in the arm and leg on an uptown A train by an apparent madman following an argument, police sources said. The suspect, identified as Darryl Stevens, 34, who was also carrying a stun gun, was subdued by ESU cops and taken to Roosevelt Hospital for psychiatric evaluation, sources said.
Texarkana browser poker “It’s Dangerous, Very Dangerous…”
Neighbors cite a visibly ugly increase in trouble spilling out of the hotels and onto the sidewalks: theft, drug abuse, public defecation, open-air sex, and random violence.
“It’s dangerous, very dangerous,” said Dan DePamphilis, who manages Rudy’s Bar and has lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. The cameras outside his Ninth Avenue watering hole have captured everything from drug deals to gunfire over the past year, he said.
“Our leaders have destroyed the city, and Hell’s Kitchen has been a focal point.”
During the peak of COVID-19 in 2020, as travel was restricted and quarantines were in full swing, the city’s homeless shelters become overcrowded while the hotels that were once the leading edge of areas like Hell’s Kitchen’s comeback remained empty. City leaders made the unpopular decision to use the largely vacant hotels to house the homeless during the brutal New York winter months. That decision has plunged the area back into the kind of crime and drug-infested hell-hole that earned its name back in the 70s and 80s.
The city turned 67 hotels across all five boroughs into shelters, according to the Department of Social Services – 10 of those landed in Hell’s Kitchen – many of them name brand properties near Times Square and NYC’s popular – though, now dark – theater district. The lack of tourism is turning the Times Square area back to the crime-infested den of drugs and homelessness that it was known for decades ago when porno theaters and prostitutes lined its streets.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer noted in a September 2020 letter to Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks obtained by The Post that more than 2,100 homeless were relocated to Manhattan Community District 4, which includes both Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.
“The density of the transfer,” wrote Brewer, “has strained the ability of the community to absorb it.”
Mayor de Blasio has said that he recognizes the problem and says he plans to remove the homeless from the hotels, but he has given no time frame for doing so.
The city announced last week it would soon deploy 80 cops to Midtown to combat vagrancy and safety issues — but that has done little to assuage neighborhood concerns.
“Overnight, the streets were loaded with sh-t. People sh-tting in the streets,” said Steve Olsen, the owner of West Bank Cafe on West 42nd Street.
In addition to the ten homeless hotels are six local, long-standing facilities dedicated to homeless and addiction services, according to a map provided by the Garment District Alliance, in conjunction with the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Alliance and Community Boards 4 and 5.
Most of these 16 facilities are clustered around the Port Authority Bus Terminal, offering a hellish, high-capacity gateway for criminals from other neighborhoods.
“Many of the problems are not necessarily caused by the residents of those hotels, but from friends, associates, and others such as drug dealers, pimps, and others who prey upon those residents,” Jerry Schupp of the Garment District Alliance, told the Post.
The Midtown South precinct, which includes the bus terminal, reports robberies, felony assaults, and burglaries more than doubled in the first quarter of 2021 from the same period last year, even though far fewer people are out now compared to the first three pre-pandemic months of 2020.
Matt Fox, the owner of Fine and Dandy, a boutique on West 49th Street near the Skyline Hotel, said the worst is yet to come for local businesses if the city doesn’t solve the Hell’s Kitchen homeless crisis soon.
“We need our tourists back, and to get them, we need our hotels back. The city has taken too long to sort out the problem,” said Fox. “There’s a narrative that small businesses that have made it this far have made it. But we might see more businesses close in the next couple of months than we have in the past year if something doesn’t change soon.”