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 powder keg for newly arrived migrants, crazed vagrants and sex offenders — an explosive amalgamation wreaking havoc on the streets of the once-quiet neighborhood.
“It’s gotten really, really scary in the last six months,” said a terrified resident of the block, who said police had recently contacted him about an armed robbery and car theft outside his home. “The situation appears to be reaching a tipping point.”
At the 1,000-bed shelter — the city’s largest for single men — residents at the post office reported overcrowding, fighting and tensions with the newly arrived asylum seekers. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began flooding the Big Apple Busloads of migrants Beginning of August. Six more buses arrived on Saturday.
“We don’t want them here because, to be honest, I think they’re treated better than we are, and we want this to be ours,” said Darrell Pankey, who has been homeless for six months.
“It’s going to explode any day now,” he added.
Conditions at the shelter have become increasingly chaotic.
There were 1,196 calls to 911 regarding the shelter this year (through Sunday), a staggering 607% increase from the 169 calls received during the same period in 2021.
Of this year’s calls, 908 were ambulance cases. Emergency call centers recorded 26 dispute calls (out of seven); five for running attacks (out of two); and 12 for other crimes (from one).
The FDNY responded Friday morning to a report of people getting stuck in an elevator that turned out to be a “malicious false alarm,” the department said.
Nestled between Bellevue and NYU Langone Hospitals, the building, a former 1929 psychiatric hospital, also serves as the admissions center for the city’s emergency shelter system.
Another homeless local, Jeffery Harris, claims the migrants stole phones to try to reach their families back home.
“This place is full. There are no beds and they still send them. They can’t fix this place fast enough to accommodate them,” Harris said.
Meanwhile, migrants claim that local tramps are the real threat.
“There are dangerous people here,” said Elias, a newcomer from Venezuela, who said unattended items are routinely stolen. So far he has seen local residents taking drugs and arguing, he said.
Another Venezuelan man said New Yorkers were “aggressive; always yelling and pushing people around and creating problems.
Gabriel García, 18, also from Venezuela, said he was woken up a week ago by his roommate shouting at him in English and he didn’t understand what he was saying.
“I was scared and felt like my life was threatened,” Garcia said.
Venezuelan Ernesto Jose Cortez, 25, said he saw a local man standing near a group of newly arrived migrants in front of 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 sense of anti-immigrant racism and danger here,” said Ángel Pereira, 25, a Venezuelan who came here by bus from Texas and has been at the shelter for a week.
The massive building has east and west wings with rooms that can accommodate two to 10 people, a resident said. Several people said the air conditioning barely worked.
There are also tensions between workers and local residents.
Kenneth Martin, a New Yorker who has been at the shelter for a month, called the staff indifferent. He got into an argument on September 6 with a guard operating an elevator to find out who should push the buttons. The guard yelled, “That’s why you’re homeless.”
Martin, who took video of the incident, called the guard using the N-word and said the worker tried to grab his phone. He said security forces took him to hospital after the incident but he refused treatment.
One resident, who said he was recently released from prison and declined to give his name, said workers appear to prioritize helping migrants.
Ex-convicts on parole from the state prison are sometimes placed at the shelter as part of an agreement between the city and the state, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which said it doesn’t put them there directly.
Yet 26 sex offenders, including a dozen classified as the most dangerous — Level 3 — call the shelter their home, according to the state registry.
A home resident was arrested in 2015 for the rape of a woman at a nearby bar. The city claimed to have cleaned up the sex fiends afterwards and claimed the at the time state register is not always accurate.
A worker at an apartment building across from the shelter said residents often use the plant beds there to store their knives, needles and other contraband.
“This is where they hide their weapons, screwdrivers, blades,” said Costas Stamatiou, who then pulled a folding pocket knife out of the hedge. “You’re always hiding something.”
Major crime in the 13th Ward, which includes the shelter, is up 28% this year – led by a 36% increase in grand larceny; 35% more burglaries; a 14% increase in crime and a 7% increase in robbery.
On Monday, the shelter and others were so full that the city failed Finding beds for 60 men, most of them migrants, in violation of a court-ordered right to shelter.
Mayor Eric Adams said the city’s housing system was at a “point of stress” as 11,000 migrants arrived in the Big Apple.
Ronald Francois, 55, who has lived in a shelter since June, said he was finally going to a veterans’ affairs facility and the flood of migrants seemed to be the last straw.
“This system is failing,” he said. “The homeless system is an error system, so I’m trying to get out of it as soon as possible.”
City officials said they provide beds for those in need under the Housing Right Act, including sex offenders, noting that not all offenders have residency restrictions.
Officials said the city and its shelter operators are providing 24-hour security, including cameras in all buildings.
“We are working around the clock to ensure we welcome with open arms newly arrived asylum seekers who need emergency housing,” said a spokeswoman for the city’s social services department.
“We have already opened various emergency centers across the city to meet the unprecedented need for shelter, and our teams continue to work at extraordinary speed to identify additional capacity across the five boroughs while fully addressing the unique needs of asylum seekers, who come to us in their greatest need,” added the spokeswoman.