Quality of life ‘tanking’ in parts of NYC with most migrant shelters

The influx of illegal migrants to the Big Apple over the past two years has meant a sea-change in the quality of life for workers and residents in zip codes swamped with shelters, they told The Post.

“It’s overpopulated here [with migrants] and that’s a concern,” said Maria Katirtzoglou, 38, who works for a Long Island City engineering firm next door to a hotel-turned-migrant shelter on Crescent Street.

“That’s a concern for people who were born and raised here, people that have property here, because people that do own property and then they see all this coming in, they don’t like it,” she said. “At night, I don’t feel safe in this area…It’s not safe. Things happen – robberies and knives, you know, people take out knives.”

The influx of illegal migrants to the Big Apple has meant a sea-change in the quality of life for residents like Craig Richardson in Jamaica, Queens. Helayne Seidman

In the 114th Precinct, which covers the shelter-saturated neighborhood where she works, robberies, assaults and other reported “major” crimes rose 12.3% during the first half of this year, compared to the same period in 2022 — a stark difference from the .5% drop in major crime citywide over the same time, records show.

Complaints to the city’s 311 hotline in the 11101 zip code also surged since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in spring 2022 began bussing illegal border crossers to New York and other blue states with sanctuary policies, with 15,256 lodged through the end of June – a 42% increase from 10,745 made during the first six months of 2022. There’s 24 migrant shelters in the 11101 — including 23 in LIC — the most of an NYC zip code, records show.

Shawarn Shields, 50, of Queensbridge Houses, said parents are afraid to take their kids to local parks and playgrounds because migrants typically race electric scooters and have sex there.

Magdalene Katirtzoglou, who works in shelter-saturated Long Island City, said there are safety concerns nowadays for long-time residents. Helayne Seidman

“This is not a third-world country,” said Shields. “We can’t just let anyone come into our neighborhood and do whatever the f— they want!”

Stuart Gleiber, 82, and his son Doug, 51, said the migrant shelters’ arrival in LIC is a gut punch to the community.

Since 1998, the father-son duo have run a successful wooden box-making company out of an office building they own on 10th Street.

In the 114th Precinct, which covers LIC, major crimes have surged 12.3% since the first half of 2022. Helayne Seidman

But they’re now considering relocating after a former Holiday Inn across the street began housing migrants. They claim their new neighbors routinely take over the block for all sorts of rogue activities — including dangerously firing up a barbecue with a propane gas tank next to plywood the Gleibers store in a lot for their business.

“We called the police; the police removed them, but the next day they were back,” sighed Stuart.

Doug said the migrants “party every day, so there’s beer, food containers everywhere.”

Stuart Gleiber, 82, and his son Doug, 51, are considering relocating their business after a migrant shelter opened up across the street in LIC. Helayne Seidman

“This is our business… We have people who come in through the front door, [so] it’s not a really professional way to have it,” he added.

On Thursday, a Post reporter witnessed migrant men brazenly speed up and down 10th Street on mopeds and pop wheelies. Others sat in herds along the street and sidewalk, which were littered with empty cigarette boxes and food containers. A young boy watched while getting a haircut on the sidewalk.

In Jamaica, one resident said his block has become a complete nightmare since a migrant shelter opened three doors down on Liberty Avenue, with many of the new arrivals spending their days outside drinking booze and smoking weed.

Shawarn Shields, right, said Queensbridge Houses parents in LIC are afraid to send kids to local parks because migrants race electric scooters and have sex there. Stephen Yang

Some were kicked out of the shelter, formerly the Van Wyck Hotel, for bad behavior but later returned in vehicles to park on the street and sleep, recalled videographer Craig Richardson.

“I don’t know where they’re getting the money to buy cars,” said Richardson, 53. “And when they have to go to the bathroom, where’d they go? In my backyard!”

He also blames migrants for littering the block with all sorts of debris and attracting “huge rats.”

“We get tickets for garbage because they throw trash all over the place,” said Richardson. “Why do I have dirty baby diapers in front of my house when I don’t have kids here? I’m picking up beer bottles, weed bags, diapers.”

Queens residents said migrants have been dumping trash in their backyards. Helayne Seidman

In Midtown, Angelica Cisneros, who works at a salad bar next to a migrant shelter on 47th Street formerly known as the Econo Lodge Times Square hotel, said the new occupants – even the paying customers – are bad for business.

“They smoke; they’re messy, and they hang around every day,” said Cisneros, 40. “It bothers us because we have to clean the tables all the time – and some of them are rude.”

Over the past year, Midtown has been the scene of wild clashes between migrants and cops, including one in May at the historic Roosevelt Hotel and another in February where a gang of migrants launched a vicious attack on two NYPD officers in Times Square.

A Midtown salad bar employee said the migrants staying in local shelters are bad for business — even the ones who are paying customers — because they bother staff and other customers. Edi Chen – stock.adobe.com

The yawning gap between quality of life on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side made sense to longtime residents told about data obtained by The Post showing huge discrepancies in the city’s placement of migrant shelters.

There are eight migrant shelters in zip codes on the UWS, while the UES only has one shelter: the once-posh Bentley Hotel on E. 62nd Street.

“It makes people who live on the Upper West Side frustrated that they can cross the block and go on a five-minute or 10-minute walk through [Central] Park, and it’s like being in a different city,” UWS activist Maria Danzilo, 67,

Zip codes on the Upper West Side are hosting eight migrant shelters, while the Upper East Side has one. New York Post

“The potential for feeling unsafe on the West Side has a lot more potential because of the shelters. You shouldn’t feel safe like there’s two cities separated by a park – one that feels safe and one that doesn’t.”

Neighborhood complaints include migrants illegally racing mopeds, boozing and puffing plenty of pot in public, illegally hawking fruits and other foods on bustling roads, and harassing outdoor diners for cash, according to UWS residents.

Yet Councilwoman Gale Brewer, a Democrat who represents the UWS, said she’s well aware of the complaints but insisted the historically liberal nabe is “handling it pretty well.”

UWS activist Maria Danzilo described the quality of life in her migrant shelter-heavy neighborhood as a far cry from that on the Upper East Side. “It’s like being a different city,” she said. James Keivom

Shawn Hill, co-founder of the Greater Harlem Coalition, said he and his neighbors in Upper Manhattan are frustrated the city has failed to equitably site shelters for housing migrants. 

“Just as we want our share of world class sporting facilities, beautiful bike paths and parks, we’d also like other neighborhoods to take their fair share of some of the less popular civic infrastructure,” Hill said. “We have equitably distributed schools, fire stations. Why can’t we do that with shelters?”

“No one neighborhood, City Council district, Senate district, should act as a containment zone for the city for unwanted civic infrastructure,” he added. 

Residents in neighborhoods with many migrant shelters — such as near the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City — say the shelters should be evenly distributed throughout the city. Stephen Yang

Councilman Keith Powers (D-Manhattan), who represents parts of Midtown with plenty of migrant shelters, agreed.

“We recognize there’s a national crisis that came to New York City that required us to do a lot of things really quickly, but no single district should carry the burden of this crisis,” said Powers, whose district includes eight shelters in the 10036 zip code in Midtown West.

Some council members representing neighborhoods with little or no shelters declined to be interviewed, saying they’re concerned speaking about the topic would draw attention and lead to Mayor Eric Adams opening more shelters in their neighborhoods.

However, Liz Garcia, a mayoral spokesperson, insisted the Adams administration is committed to siting the shelters fairly.  

“With more than 65,300 migrants currently in our care, and an average of over a thousand more continuing to arrive every week, we have used every possible corner of New York City to shelter asylum seekers in a compassionate and equitable way, but given the nature of this emergency, we have prioritized sites that are practical, efficient, and cost-effective,” she said.

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