Midtown East residents have spent months seeking help for a homeless man whose rancid encampment at 50th Street and Second Avenue has been a neighborhood nuisance for at least a year.
Repeated calls to cops and 311 have yet to spark the permanent removal of an unkempt, unpredictable vagrant known as “Daniel.”
Daniel, whom residents believe is a 41-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran from Oregon who has bounced in and out of VA hospitals, may not have a home, but he has a cell phone, Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Local businesses, such as The Press Box Pub next door, are suffering due to the loitering, which interferes with efforts to maximize outdoor dining amid COVID.
“People wouldn’t come because the smell was so bad,” said one neighbor.
A sidewalk shed, meant to protect the public after the facade of the Second Avenue building was found to be in bad shape, has instead created a haven for Daniel and other homeless drop-ins.
They sleep in the entranceways of the building’s shuttered storefronts — while well-intentioned passersby only feed the problem by leaving Morton Williams sandwiches, Entenmann’s cookies and jars of Nutella.
“Two evenings ago I walked back from Morton Williams and the guy was yelling and cursing and gesticulating wildly,” posted one frightened resident during a passionate July 9 online discussion on nextdoor.
“Soon we’ll look like Venice Beach, minus the water view,” snarked another, who said she had walked by the site and “was gagging over the stench. And of course there were piles of food that will likely be a trash heap by tomorrow. Whoever is dropping off the food should come by tomorrow to clean up the trash created by their ‘donations.’”
Two NYPD cops from the 17th Precinct installed orange-colored netting closing off the entire site in May, but it was gone the next morning, one disheartened denizen wrote on the site.
Then, the Turtle Bay Association had the entire site power-washed, but neither that nor city Sanitation summonses to the property owner prevented the area from being “trashed again,” residents griped.
The four-story building with 10 units at 940 Second Avenue was sold to a Long Island-based corporation, 300 East 50th Street Owner LLC, in April for $12 million, public records show.
Reggie Kronstadt, one of the owners, said he was aware of the homeless problem.
“We’ve been trying to figure out what to do,” Kronstadt told The Post. “Part of it is we have scaffolding there. They just congregate underneath. … We’re definitely trying to get it cleaned up.”
Kronstadt was tight-lipped regarding what the owners planned to do with the property.
Since April 2020, there have been 17 complaints to 311 for the location: nine regarding an encampment, four for “homeless person assistance,” three regarding sanitation conditions — general request for cleanup — and one for a dirty condition. Eleven of the 17 complaints were filed between May and July.
The Department of Veterans Affairs did not immediately return messages.
This week, The Post witnessed the squalor and spotted Daniel and another homeless man at the site.
A day after The Post reached out to the building’s owners, the site was power-washed and the detritus removed. However, the homeless were back Friday night.
Said 25-year-resident Dianne, “It does still smell. I don’t feel this is a resolved issue. Not until it’s done and done.”