Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels safety patrol toured Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Sunday amid growing concerns about hundreds of homeless recently moved into neighborhood hotels by the city.
Sliwa — the group’s founder, a 2021 mayoral contender and an Upper West Sider — took to the streets with about eight members of the red-bereted Angels, meeting with locals and observing conditions.
While many of the new arrivals are just down-on-their-luck New Yorkers, the group also includes recovering addicts and convicted pedophiles.
Since the city shuttled hundreds of vagrants from packed congregate shelters into three neighborhood hotels in a bid to stem the coronavirus, area residents have reported scenes of brazen drug-dealing and use, broad-daylight masturbation and public urination.
But Sliwa, citing a security guard at one of the three hotels, said Sunday that the scene inside the makeshift shelters is every bit as troubling.
“Once they are in their room, other than if it’s an extreme emergency, you don’t have access to them. So they are shooting up in the rooms, nickel- and dime-bags of heroin, very cheap, $5, $10,” Sliwa relayed of the Hotel Belleclaire. “At times they can smell the K2, they can smell the crack being smoked in the rooms.
“Once you are in your room, it’s your own little island.”
While it’s up to the city to police the halls of the hotels, Sliwa, 66, has vowed to flood the streets with some 60 Angels to restore order and a sense of public safety.
He was greeted warmly by Upper West Side residents as he distributed fliers with information on how to contact and join the Angels.