The Hawley St. headache: Party house brings gun violence, noise into streets

Neighbors Want Action

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For months, the folks living around 336 Hawley Street have dealt with massive parties spilling into the streets, bringing trash, lights and music, and even gun violence to many front doors.

“Just outside, in front of people’s homes, on people’s properties, in people’s driveways,” a neighbor told News10NBC anonymously. “Dancing, blasting music till, like, dawn, literally […] We’re caged in our homes, because — we can’t be peaceful. I can’t let my kids come outside. I leave my home to go to work, and there’s trash, debris, bullet shells, cups, all kinds of paraphernalia, broken bottles in front of our home. So I have to sweep up — my husband have to sweep up — in front of our home, before we even leave, because of somebody who lives maybe six or seven houses down.”

The neighbor said this has been going on for months, since early summer. And despite almost daily calls to 911, the neighbor said nothing significant has been done. The house and its parties have been tied to several shootings.

“If you want to have a party in your home, have a party in your home,” the neighbor said. “And when the party is over, you need to leave. It should not trickle down the whole street […] the fricking snowstorm, where you got the alerts on the phone that said, ‘Stay your behind in the home’ couldn’t even keep them in the house! It’s like, come on!”

So what can be done? There are many steps that can and are being taken, but they often take months to play out. The property is owned by Providence Housing, a local nonprofit affiliated with the Diocese of Rochester that helps connect people with affordable housing. They own over 1,100 units in our area, and most of them don’t have any issues.

Executive Director Mark Greisberger said that the original tenant the unit was assigned to left months ago, leaving the unit to people who Greisberger said he couldn’t identify.

“We know who they are now,  but it took us a long time to figure out what was going on there,” he said. “So these are not our tenants, these are squatters. There’s a proceeding to get rid of them, we have initiated that proceeding […] The city would like us to solve the problem but we’re subject to the requirements of state law that says we have to evict. And that means a legal proceeding in city court.”

That legal proceeding started a few weeks ago, after a New Year’s shooting at the house sent three people to the hospital. Unfortunately, it takes months for that to play out in court, and the burden of proof is on the landlords. Greisberger said this means they have to collect evidence of the parties and convince neighbors to testify.

Police said they’re doing the best they can to monitor the street, but aren’t able to devote unlimited resources. Captain Greg Bello said they have issued dozens of parking tickets and noise complaints, and sent special details to drive around the street. But neighbors claim that’s not enough, and say that they call repeatedly for issues with no more response than a drive by — a response they also saw hours before a shooting in July.

 “It makes me feel helpless, it makes me feel like what is the point of being a law abiding citizen,” the neighbor said. “Because you have more privileges and more rights as a criminal than as a law abiding citizen.”

Enter: the City of Rochester. After the latest shooting, they issued an immediate (but temporary) restraining order to shut down all social gatherings. To make it more permanent, they’re suing Providence Housing.

“We the city have an obligation too. To make sure the public is safe so we can’t just wait to see what happens with the eviction proceeding,” Patrick Beath, corporation counsel for the city of Rochester, said. “So we brought this action to make sure that either through eviction or our action, the problem gets solved.”

Beath stressed this legal action isn’t because the city’s at odds with Providence House. Instead, it’s because this legal action will give them the teeth they need to more easily (and more legally) remove the current occupants.  

“We have a number of tools in our toolbox and we need to make sure we’re using them wisely and at the right time,” Beath said. “And now we’re at a point where yes, we’re going to court, we need to shut the place down.”

So why not use the gun violence emergency order? It’s not strong enough.

“We use the gun violence emergency order in a number of different locations,” The city’s Corporation Counsel Pat Beath said. “What it’s most effective at is shutting things down quickly, and getting compliance from an owner. What it’s not good at is kind of long-term policing, because we don’t have the court backing it up.”

While it took months to get the city involved, Beath said they should be able to take action after their next court date on February 15. They’re expecting to get a decision from the court either on or around that date.

“If we can come up with a situation where we can get the current occupant out, and get a new tenant who’s seeking affordable housing in, that’s the ideal situation,” Beath said.

Until then, the police are supposed to be able to keep things quiet for the folks on Hawley Street. News10NBC will be following up with neighbors to see what happens in the house.

Nuisance House

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.