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After Fatal Stabbing, Tenants At Hell’s Kitchen Residence Sound The Alarm On Roommate Safety

After Fatal Stabbing, Tenants At Hell’s Kitchen Residence Sound The Alarm On Roommate Safety

As the community reels from last week’s fatal stabbing at Hell’s Kitchen’s Dorothy Ross Friedman Residence, some tenants are sounding the alarm — alleging that longstanding roommate safety issues have been mismanaged or ignored by the building’s operators.

Allegations of significant security concerns around unsafe behavior have been treated as standard roommate disagreements for over a decade, say several residents who reached out to W42ST — many on the basis of anonymity out of fears of retaliation.

“I have gone to anyone and everyone,” about security concerns at the building, one longtime resident said. Over her tenure at the residence at 475 W57th Street (at the corner of 10th Avenue), she’s dealt with multiple roommates who have verbally and physically threatened her, destroyed and vandalized her property, and even attempted to break into her bedroom during the night. “I called the building and let them know [that her roommate and a guest had tried to break in], and they said , ‘OK, we banned that friend’ — but nothing about the person I was living with.”

She filed multiple complaints and requests for transfer — a process that seems lost between the building’s two operators — the Entertainment Community Fund (ECF), formerly known as The Actors Fund, a social services organization for entertainment industry professionals, with net assets of over $100 million and a starry, high-profile board, and Breaking Ground , a supportive and transitional housing nonprofit. The residence opened in 1996 and was originally known as the Aurora. It is a 30-story building with 178 shared-living affordable units earmarked for members of the entertainment community, seniors and New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. According to representatives from ECF, Breaking Ground is responsible for managing the maintenance, security, intake and administration of the building while ECF manages onsite resident supportive services, coordination of home care and medical services.

When filing safety complaints, “you have to submit them to Breaking Ground,” the resident explained, “but then the Entertainment Community Fund is the one that supposedly mitigates roommate meetings. The Entertainment Community told me to report it to Breaking Ground, and then Breaking Ground said, ‘Oh, your [Entertainment Community Fund] social worker will handle that’  — it doesn’t make any sense.”

While she’s been moved several times, the resident currently finds herself in another unsafe living situation and mired in the long process for an emergency transfer. “They denied it and said that there wasn’t sufficient evidence or there weren’t enough incidents. I immediately resubmitted another [request] with the incidents that they ignored,” the resident told us. She has requested a one-bedroom unit after hearing of several vacancies, “and when I ask about it, there’s just no answer.” In the meantime, she awaits a solution while fearing her roommate. “I told them — I feel like [they] could set me on fire,” the resident said, “and you guys would look the other way.”

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