Metro

NYC largest men shelter on the brink as migrants flood in

It’s a ticking time bomb.

The city’s Bellevue Men’s Shelter at 30th Street and First Avenue in Kips Bay has become a tinder box of newly arrived migrants, unhinged vagrants, and sex offenders – an explosive amalgam that’s wreaking havoc on the streets of the once-quiet residential neighborhood.

“In the last six months, it’s gotten really, really scary,” according to one terrified resident of the block who said police recently contacted him about an armed robbery and a carjacking in front of his house. “The situation appears to be reaching a tipping point.” 

At the 1,000-bed shelter — the city’s largest for single men — residents told The Post about overcrowding, fights, and tensions with the newly arrived asylum seekers. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began flooding the Big Apple with busloads of migrants in early August. Six more buses arrived Saturday.

“We don’t want them here because, to be honest with you, to me they’re getting treated better than we do, and this is supposed to be ours,” said Darrell Pankey, a homeless resident for six months.

A picture of people lined up to board a bus to be transported to a men's shelter.
Migrants lined up to board a bus to be transported to a men’s shelter.

A picture of people lined up to board a bus to be transported to a men's shelter.
Migrants waiting to be transfers to a shelter in NYC.

A picture of people lined up to board a bus to be transported to a men's shelter.
A line of people waiting to transferred to a Brooklyn’s shelter.

“It’s gonna blow up any day now,” he added.

Conditions have become increasingly chaotic at the shelter.

There have been 1,196 calls this year to 911 regarding the shelter (through Sunday), up a staggering 607% from the 169 calls received for the same period in 2021.

Of this year’s calls, 908 were ambulance cases. Emergency operators logged 26 calls for disputes (up from seven); five for assaults in progress (up from two); and 12 for other crimes (up from one).

A picture of a a doorman with a knife found hidden in a bush.
Residents of NYC’s largest men’s shelter told The Post about overcrowding, fights, and tensions since new arrivals arrived.
J.C.Rice

The FDNY responded to the building Friday morning on a report of people stuck in an elevator that turned out to be a “malicious false alarm,” the department said.

The building, a former psychiatric hospital that dates to 1929, is sandwiched between the Bellevue and NYU Langone hospital campuses, and also serves as an intake center for the city’s shelter system.

Another homeless local, Jeffery Harris, contends the migrants have been stealing phones to try to reach their families back home.

“This place is full to capacity. There ain’t no beds and they’re still sending them. They can’t fix this place fast enough to accommodate them,” Harris said.

A picture of homeless man, Jeffery Harris.
A homeless man, Jeffery Harris, says the migrants “have been stealing phones to try to reach their families back home.”

A picture of a men's shelter in NYC.
“In the last six months, it’s gotten really, really scary,” according to one terrified resident of the block. “The situation appears to be reaching a tipping point.”

A picture of people helping migrants with housing.
The increase of people at the men’s shelter has created havoc on the streets of the once quiet residential area.

Meanwhile, the migrants claim it’s the homegrown hobos who are the real threat.

“There are dangerous people here,” said Elias, a new arrival from Venezuela who said unattended belongings are routinely stolen. He’s seen residents doing drugs and one fight so far, he said.

Another man from Venezuela said the New Yorkers were “aggressive; always yelling and pushing people around and creating problems.” 

Gabriel García, 18, also from Venezuela, said he was awakened a week ago by his roommate yelling at him in English and he didn’t understand what he was saying.

“I was scared and I felt like my life was being threatened,” Garcia said.

Venezuelan Ernesto Jose Cortez, 25, said he saw a local standing close to a group of newly arrived migrants outside the shelter Thursday night “in a way like he wanted to fight … he wanted to hit them.” He said he notified a security guard who intervened.


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“There’s a feeling of racism against immigrants, and danger here,” said Ángel Pereira, 25, a Venezuelan bused here from Texas who has been at the shelter for a week.

The massive building has an east and west wing with rooms that house anywhere from two people up to 10, one resident said. Several people said the air conditioning barely worked.

There are also tensions between workers and residents.

Kenneth Martin, a New Yorker who’s been at the shelter for a month, called the staff uncaring. He got into a beef on Sept. 6 with a guard operating an elevator over who should push the buttons. The guard yelled, “This is why you’re homeless.”

Martin, who took a video of the incident, called the guard the N-word and said the worker tried to grab his phone. He said security guards took him to the hospital after the incident but he declined treatment.

One resident, who said he was recently released from prison and didn’t want to give his name, said workers seem to be prioritizing helping migrants.

Ex-convicts on parole from state prison are sometimes housed at the shelter under an arrangement between the city and state, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which said it doesn’t directly transport them there.

Yet 26 sex offenders, including a dozen designated as the most dangerous — Level 3 — list the shelter as their home, according to the state’s registry.

A shelter resident was arrested in 2015 for the rape of a woman at a nearby bar. The city claimed to have cleared out the sex fiends after that and claimed at the time the state registry is not always accurate.

Another shelter resident, Elijah Kelly, was busted in the December 2020 New Year’s Eve strangulation rape of a neighborhood resident.

A worker at an apartment building across from the shelter said residents often use the plant beds there to stash their knives, needles, and other contraband.

A picture of migrants entering a bus.
Meanwhile, migrants claim that the NYC native homeless men are the real threats.
J.C.Rice

“This is where they hide their weapons, screwdrivers, blade,” said Costas Stamatiou who then pulled out a foldable pocket knife from the hedges. “They’re always hiding something.” 

Major crime in the 13th Precinct, which includes the shelter, is up 28% this year –  led by a 36% rise in grand larcenies; a 35% increase in burglaries; a 14% percent increase in felony assaults: and a 7% rise in robberies.

On Monday, the shelter and others were so packed that the city failed to find beds for 60 men, most of them migrants, a breach of the court-ordered right to shelter rule.

Mayor Eric Adams has said the city’s shelter system is at a “breaking point” as 11,000 migrants have come to the Big Apple.

Ronald Francois, 55, a shelter resident since June, said he was finally leaving for a Veteran Affairs facility and that the flood of migrants seemed like the final straw.

A picture of migrants walking towards the men's shelter.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began bringing hundred of migrants to NYC in early August.

A picture of migrants Jose Cortez and Gabriel Garcia.
Jose Cortez (left) and Gabriel Garcia (right) arrived to New York from Venezuela via a bus from Texas.

A picture of a street near a men's shelter in NYC.
“We are working around the clock to ensure that we are welcoming recently-arrived asylum seekers in need of shelter services with open arms,” an NYC Department of Social Services spokeswoman said.

“This system is failing,” he said. “The homeless system is a failure system so I’m trying to get out as quick as I can.”

City officials said they provide beds to those in need according to the right-to-shelter law, including sex offenders, noting not all offenders have residency restrictions.

Officials said the city and its shelter operators provide around-the-clock security, including cameras throughout its buildings.

“We are working around the clock to ensure that we are welcoming recently-arrived asylum seekers in need of shelter services with open arms,” a city Department of Social Services spokeswoman said.

“We have already opened various emergency sites citywide to address the unprecedented need for shelter services, and our teams continue to work at an extraordinary speed to identify additional capacity across the five boroughs while comprehensively addressing the unique needs of asylum seekers who are coming to us in their greatest hour of need,” the spokeswoman added.

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