By Ron O’Clair
I attended the “Prostitution” meeting held at the board room of the Community Development Corporation Headquarters located at 875 Main Street, which was quite well attended by community activists like me, and just plain old ordinary citizens who are fed up with the everyday bullshit that comes along with the associated crimes that prostitution helps support.
Since that time, returning to what I refer to as: “ground zero”, the property that I manage located right next door to the venerable P.I.P. Shelter, and armed with a new resolve not to let the insanity continue unabated, I had the good fortune to be renovating a vacancy that sits smack dab on top of the action outside the window, and due to my penchant to work unorthodox hours continuing throughout the night, I was able to see and hear what my tenants have to endure every single night without fail.
The tenant that we finally got shed of was involved in lots of the goings on outside the windows, and sad to say had contributed to my building being perceived as a place to go to use and abuse drugs. Even though I have a “No visitor policy” in effect to prevent just such a thing. I found several cut baggie corners and a whole lot of cut knots, that indicate that lots of crack cocaine was smoked in that room. The tenant always professed to be in recovery, and not doing that anymore, but the evidence tells the tale better than anything else. Not to mention the two used glass crack pipes that I found while cleaning out the room after the vacancy.
Well, due to the many hours required to clean out, paint, and repair the damages inflicted upon the room over the years that that tenant lived here, I was able to get a better than usual bird’s eye view of the goings on outside, as that room fronts Charlton Street on the opposite side of the building than where my own quarters are located which face the Main Street side of the building right next to the Church next door to me. I usually hear loud disturbances all through the night hours, and had come to accept it as the norm for the area, but due to the meeting, and the discussion we all had there, I come to realize that there has to be a better way to manage these problems, and stop the insanity from getting worse, not better.
Getting rid of problem tenants is one way, and it helps, but it is very hard to make someone vacate if they actually pay their rent on time, and the burden of proof of drug usage, and undesirable behaviors is very hard to prove in a court of law for the landlord who knows better than anyone the problems resulting from a particular tenant that affect the other tenants rights to a clean, quiet, safe, and comfortable place to reside. We had taken that particular tenant to housing court twice, and were unsuccessful at getting her to leave the building. If she had not brought in a loveseat off the street that was infested with bedbugs, and cost us plenty to get rid of the bugs, I bet she would still be here today.
The bugs drove her out, even though we had to pay an exterminator due to her ignoring my request not to bring in that particular piece of furniture, which I suspected might contain the bugs, and told her to get it out, before she even got it fully in the room, as it is our policy to not allow any overstuffed furniture into the building, due to a prior infestation the year before, by those pesky little bugs which are spreading all over our city due to ignorant people that pull things in off the street, and then allow the bugs to establish themselves in a new residence, which can take 2-3 months before you start to notice the bugs biting you, and by then it is far too late.
The woman was told that if there were any bugs in that item, as she was bringing it in against the building superintendent’s advice and without permission, and there was found to be an infestation, she would have to pay. She looked right at me, and said, “I know the person where I got this, and they don’t have bedbugs.”
Well, sure enough, I was right, and the exterminator correctly informed me that the infestation was due to the loveseat, and wouldn’t you know, the owner had to pay to treat the building due to the fact that the law in this state requires the owner to pay for things like that, even though she did this against my advice, and without my permission. I will say that if any of you readers out there have encountered these bugs, and I know some of you have, Ben at Ransford Pest Control on Chandler Street is the man to call to take care of the problem without cleaning you completely out like other pest control companies do. The service he provides is fast, reliable, and reasonably priced.
So here I am at 3:10 A.M. working on the room, and having heard numerous loud arguments over drug sales, or usage, when they really disturb the peace, worse than before, with all the yelling and screaming that goes on, when I decide enough is enough, and call the police to report this latest disturbance, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, I had listened to enough.
I called the dispatcher, and requested to speak to the officer’s that responded to my complaint, to let them know exactly what has been going on, and who was doing what to whom, and when. I have an elderly tenant that tries to rest, right there above the action on the corner of Main and Charlton Streets, poor Jerry has suffered enough, and he does not deserve to have to listen to any more of that kind of crap all night, every night. The room I was working on sits right alongside his own, so now I know exactly what he has been hearing every night for far too long, and it needs to stop. Stop entirely, not just for the few minutes when the police arrive, and the morons scatter to the four winds at the sight of a police car, but come right back as soon as they leave, over and over and over, each and every night without fail.
So, I go and have a very long discussion with a couple of very capable young officer’s, Officer Essex, and Officer Molinari, who are assigned to the route that includes the property I reside in and manage for the owner. I let them know exactly what has been happening, and that I am fully fed up with repeated attempts to obtain peace and the rights of any citizen or property owner to enjoy a nights rest free of repeated loud disturbances, and people hanging around on the corner’s outside of closed for the night businesses with no legal purpose or right to disturb the tenants right to peace and enjoyment of the premise.
I am right, 100%, they do not have the legal right to disturb the tenants that pay their rent, and have a right to get what they pay for. That argument alone warrants action to quell the disturbances of the peace all the time, not just when I call with complaints. This baloney has a first name, and it is time to wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to letting this bullshit keep happening every single night.
As I write this it is 3:22 A.M. the very next night, and I have just called in the second time tonight to complain about another disturbance caused by these people who have no legal right to stand around causing disturbances, and arguing over drug sales and usage. They have come to believe they do, but they simply do not have any legal business that requires them to be located on these corners, or on the side of the P.I.P Shelter building.
It would be one thing if they had a legal purpose to be out there, but they simply do not have that purpose, and they are one and all up to no good, which anyone can see and hear for themselves. There were 8 people there, 2 women, and 6 males of various ethnicity, I went out to do a perimeter check of the property with my lantern flashlight, and one of the women had the nerve to ask if she could use my lantern to look for her lost hit of crack, you see, it is a big joke to these people, and they laugh at any attempts that anyone makes to improve the neighborhood through vigorous police protection of a property owner’s rights, as well as the tenant’s rights to peace and enjoyment of the premises.
These people are so used to walking all over other people’s rights, they have forgotten that they have no legal right to do what they do, they just have become emboldened by not being made aware of the fact that what they are doing is against the law.
While it is not my responsibility to educate these people about their legal rights, I am responsible for this property and ensuring the building and grounds are not subject to illegal activity of any type.
The task is daunting enough without having to listen to all this commotion going on at all hours of the day and all throughout each night. All of it is bullshit, and needs to stop for good, not just for the few moments that the police respond to my calls. We as a society tend to tolerate far too much illegal behavior, without doing all that we can to assist the police in efforts to stop the madness from spreading even further.
Residents of this particular neighborhood are quite fed up, and on my first call to report a disturbance tonight, the dispatcher told me they already had one call just prior to mine, so another neighbor had reached their limit as well this night. If you don’t reside here, you’d never believe what goes on each and every day. There is no neighborhood in the city that suffers as much as we do, or for as long as we have, and unfortunately people always blame the P.I.P Shelter, when it is really the fault of a certain segment of the people that utilize the shelter services, not simply the fact that the shelter is located where it is. People have been getting away with behavior that is certainly illegal, and socially unacceptable, due to a complex combination of causes, not entirely the location of the shelter services, but more because we have allowed it to get to the point it is at now through our own negligence in nipping it in the bud years ago.
The time has come for a united effort to rid our streets of unacceptable behavior, and it can happen if we wish it to happen, and have the determination to succeed.
When did we as a society decide that it was O.K. to smoke crack, or shoot heroin in public? Or even to consume alcoholic beverages in public?
We must not allow our society to continue its downward spiral into chaos and anarchy … .