May 23, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
A group of homeless men and women on Putnam Avenue are making a mess of the street, a number of Ridgewood residents claimed at Tuesday night’s 104 Precinct Community Council meeting.
The issue, the residents say, has been going on for years.
“We’ve had a problem with numerous homeless men and women drinking, using our block as a toilet, garbage being thrown around, fighting,” said Ridgewood resident Scott Wilson. “They get so drunk they pass out. Ambulance gets there at least once a day—I actually call it their limousine ride. It’s embarrassing.”
Officers have responded to the scene a number of times, Wilson said, but the homeless individuals return soon after.
One resident, Tony Revello, said he has written numerous letters to both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo about the problem, but never received a response. He says he had the police called on him after trying to take the matter into his own hands when he saw a man defecating in front of his home.
“I came out with a bat as a dude was taking a crap right next to my minivan,” he said. “I was about to put my daughter inside, he’s got his pants down to his knees. My daughter is 4 years old, she doesn’t need to see that.”
104 Precinct Commanding Officer Victoria Perry said she is aware of the problem and has been in contact with Council Member Bob Holden’s office as well as local homeless services. But without being able to catch the homeless individuals committing the alleged offences in the act, she says their options are very limited.
“I can’t force them [to go get help], so my hands are tied just as much,” Perry said. “But we can work with the other agencies to try to convince them to get the help that they need.”
The men and women are believed to be local residents of the neighborhood, Perry said.
Father Mike Lopez, pastor of All Saints and advocate for the homeless, said at the Tuesday night meeting that he has been aware of the situation on Putnam Avenue for quite some time. He pointed out that the shelter system forces people back out onto the street during the day, leaving them with nowhere to go. He then added that the group generally dissipates by 10 p.m. after the individuals have returned to the shelter.
Lopez also noted that not all of the individuals involved in the Putnam Avenue incidents are homeless.
“A lot of those guys who look like they’re homeless drinking in public are not homeless,” Lopez said. “They’re just hanging out with them together.”
Holden says his office has received one complaint about the problem and that they are working with Lopez to try to get the homeless individuals in touch with service providers.
“I have also spoken to the 104th Precinct and I encourage anyone who witnesses public urination or any other violation to call 311, 911 and my office,” Holden said.
Perry also recommended that residents call their Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) directly if they observe any violations.