Illegal street racing keeps up clients at homeless shelter in New Haven

Drag racing in front of homeless shelter in New Haven
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 5:18 PM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - Late night drag racers and their loud cars are keeping clients at a New Haven homeless shelter up all hours of the night.

It’s happening right outside the Columbus House on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard.

We’re told the drag racers set up shop right in front of the shelter and even in their parking lot as they use the boulevard as their own personal straightaway.

Cell phone video shows the cars revving their engines as drag racers rip up and down Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. They’re doing it just a few feet from New Haven’s Columbus House, a homeless shelter.

“To be woke that way, to lose the sleep, over a 2-3 day period, traumatic to my illness,” said Kenny Magda.

Magda lived through it while staying at Columbus House. It’s a sound he still can’t shake.

“It was hell on wheels,” Magda said.

Staff at the shelter said it happens basically every weekend.

“This is pretty loud, just standing here. Imagine if you had these cars souped up for racing, which are incredibly loud just buzzing by and we had clients telling us this week, it happens at 3 o’clock in the morning,” said Margaret Middleton, Executive Director of Columbus House.

Middleton said they have beds for about 100 people, including space for those recovering from medical procedures. She said the noise takes its toll.

“One thing we know about homelessness, it’s an incredibly hard existence, people are tired, they often have chronic health conditions, they need rest like we all do, and you cannot rest when you have illegal street racing happening 20 feet outside your window,” Middleton said.

To see for herself, Middleton showed up on weekend and shot this video.

She said she’s been in contact with New Haven police, who respond, but the racers take off when they notice the flashing lights on the way.

Middleton feels a police presence alone will not likely solve the problem, saying the issue is the road.

“The challenge we have is this straight patch of Ella Grasso Boulevard, we’d really like to offer people a safe and quiet night sleep here. How do you do that? Right now, on Friday and Saturday nights we can’t.”

It’s not just impacting clients, but also the employees there.

Middleton said a staffer who was getting dropped off for a midnight shift had their car hit by one of the racers, who then sped off.

Illegal street racing outside homeless shelter in New Haven