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Hell’s Kitchen Board Implores City To Reduce Hotel Shelters

HELL’S KITCHEN, NY — A Hell’s Kitchen community board renewed a call this week for the city to reduce the density of temporary homeless shelters in the neighborhood, saying increased crime and drug use associated with the facilities was causing a public health crisis in the area.

Members of Community Board 4 strained to distinguish the situation in Hell’s Kitchen from similar battles over the pandemic-era hotel shelters that have played out in other neighborhoods, saying they objected only to the concentration of shelters around West 36th and 37th streets and were open to relocating the shelters to elsewhere in the district.

“This is not NIMBYism. This is a common-sense request for a reduction,” board member Maria Ortiz said, using the acronym for “not in my backyard.”

The board voted unanimously Wednesday to send a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks, noting that three hotels on the two streets have been converted into temporary shelters — part of the city’s effort to reduce crowding during the coronavirus pandemic.

A handful of residents who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting said that the 812 shelter beds on 36th and 37th streets have caused a marked decline in their quality of life.

“We all legitimately fear for our safety and health every time we walk out the front door,” neighbor Brian Weber said.

Resident Alexander Vitelli said he objected to the open drug use and perceived crime increase that had arrived alongside the shelters, rather than the homeless residents themselves.

“I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s a homeless issue,” he said. “This is more than that — it is a mental health issue, it is a drug issue.”

‘We’re not looking to ship this out’

For months, Midtown

Top House Republicans light into DC elections board for ‘failure to take responsibility’ for voter rolls

Top House Republicans on Thursday are sending a letter to the Washington, D.C., Board of Elections (DCBOE) expressing concern over reports that many ballots are being sent to people who have moved or died and lighting into the board for “its failure to take responsibility” for its voter rolls.

The letter comes after D.C. began mailing ballots to residents late last month in an effort to allow people to avoid polling places on Election Day and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But soon after there were widespread complaints from voters that they were getting ballots that were addressed to people who had in some cases not lived at a particular residence for years. Some voters reported that they still were sent ballots for voters who no longer lived in their residence even after they had returned DCBOE postcards confirming that certain voters no longer lived at their address.

“Notwithstanding its failure to take responsibility for creating this avoidable situation, the Board places a large onus squarely on individual citizens to clean up a mess solely of the Board’s making,” said the Republicans, led by Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer of Kentucky. “This appears to be the only ‘safeguard’ in place, with no other procedures to avoid, detect, and/or divert misaddressed ballots.”

RETURN TO SENDER: DC VOTERS ARE BEING SENT MAIL-IN BALLOTS FOR EX-RESIDENTS

Outdated voter rolls are a common problem in many jurisdictions around the country. But the issue has been brought to the forefront ahead of the 2020 presidential election as many states and jurisdictions like D.C. are quickly moving to universal mail-in voting systems — where all voters are sent mail ballots without needing to request them — amid the pandemic.

The elections board asked the voters repeatedly on social media to mark any such