Family forced to move as aggressive homeless men living in nearby shelter harass teen girls

Harassment from New York City homeless was reportedly enough to drive a family away in a community that has continuously pushed back on the presence of a local shelter.

Residents of Ozone Park, Queens have been speaking up since a homeless shelter for men opened in 2019. Now, the behavior of those staying at the Laurel Hall facility run by Lantern Community Services and funded by taxpayers has allegedly forced locals to flee.

Speaking with the New York Post, Carmen Viruet explained how a neighbor had relocated to Long Island because of threats received from one of the men at the shelter. “I said, ‘Why are you moving?’ and she said, ‘Because one of the guys in the shelter said he was going to rape my daughter, and I cannot let that happen.”

Her concern extended to her own 15-year-old granddaughter who told the outlet, “[My parents] want me to cross the street every time so I don’t pass the shelter.”

It wasn’t even a year after the 113-bed shelter opposed by the community opened in Feb. 2019  before one of its residents was charged with molesting a three-year-old boy.

Another local, Lissette Moreno, the 51-year-old mother of 17-year-old Hailey Moreno, recounted multiple incidents that she believed were connected to the facility just a few doors down from her home.

On one occasion her daughter hadn’t returned home from work on time. Alarmed, the mother went looking for the teen only to find her being harassed by two men who were soliciting the girl for her phone number and allegedly saying “age doesn’t matter.”

“I see two tall guys standing over her so I run over and said, ‘What the F is going on here?’ She was shaking,” detailed Moreno.

Two weeks later, the teen was reportedly followed home by a man Moreno believed was staying at the Lantern Community Services. “She looks at me with so much anger. Like, if we would have moved when the shelter opened, this wouldn’t have happened.”

The young girl wasn’t alone in experiencing harassment as Moreno too recounted an incident last year accompanied by her son and granddaughter where “I went to the store and a man told me everything he wanted to do to me. It was so graphic. How he was going to grab me and rip off my clothes.”

One of 15 locations throughout the city, the Ozone Park facility alone had 198 calls to police this year, up from 167 by the same time in 2022. Examples of complaints included disputes, disorderly conduct and assaults. It was unclear if any of these incidents were connected to the influx of illegal aliens and the ensuing crisis that New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) has yet to resolve which even Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has hit him over.

Another local, Lois Brill told the Post, “They’re peeing on the sidewalk, they’re causing trouble. A couple of months ago, a guy had his penis out as people with children were walking by.”

A scheduled meeting for Aug. 8 had been canceled when a representative for the Department of Homeless Services was unable to attend. A new meeting had been slated for next week according to Ozone Park Residents Block Association president Sam Esposito.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D) said to the Post, “There’s new management there so we want to exchange information and get to know them. We need to make sure those men are getting the services they need but also that the community is safe from harassment or any other issues.”

According to city records, the Department of Homeless Services has prepared to renew a four-year contract for that specific location valued at $82 million in taxpayer money.


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Kevin Haggerty


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