CROWD DEMANDS MORE AGGRESSIVE ACTION AGAINST HOMELESS SHELTERS

Tired of impassioned letters and speeches that fall on deaf ears, a crowd of 100 or so people at a Community Board 7 meeting on Tuesday night called for more aggressive action to remove two homeless shelters from buildings on West 95th Street. The shelters were opened in the middle of the summer without community review under the city’s emergency power to install housing for the city’s growing homeless population.

PS 75, a block away from the shelters at 316 and 330 West 95th Street, is set to open this week, and one mother expressed her worries: “It feels like a real bomb landing on our heads. It’s not nice to put this in front of a public school. Are there sex offenders [in the shelter]?”

Last month the shelters were placed in the two buildings on 95th, which were being used as SRO’s, housing low-income people who are willing to share bathrooms and kitchens. Seventy-one of the units are still occupied by SRO residents. Up to 200 homeless families were approved to move into the buildings. One resident of nearby SRO “The St. Louis” said that introducing transient residents poses dangers to permanent SRO residents. He was worried about being a victim of violence just because he is poor and chooses to live in an SRO: “We live with these fears.”

The West 90’s are notorious for having a lot of supportive housing — thousands of people in the shelter system and other city programs now live in the area, and many locals are fed up. In fact, numerous people at the meeting demanded that elected officials take a stronger stance on the shelters — perhaps even filing a lawsuit against the city or other actors to determine whether the city’s decades-long homeless “emergency” allows for homeless shelters to continually be opened without review.

Residents also said that it’s clear that many neighborhoods aren’t accepting their “fair share” of supportive housing, even as the mid-90’s have absorbed thousands of residents in public programs.

“We need to challenge the city on the very notion of what is an emergency,” said Aaron Biller (right), who heads activist group Neighborhood in the Nineties. “They’ve been planning [this shelter] for six months. This entire thing is a farce.”

Biller also turned his ire on elected officials like City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, criticizing a law passed a couple of years ago that she championed to stop SROs like the one where the shelters were placed from housing tourists. (Brewer and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal have both been criticized by our commenters for supporting the law to close the hotels. Without the income from the tourists, some landlords see homeless shelters that pay about $3,300 per unit per month as a good alternative.).

Said local dad Meyer Muschel: “[Local elected officials] should have seen this coming like a freight train.”

Brewer reiterated at the meeting that she doesn’t think the SROs should be used for “transitional housing” like hotel rooms.

With the Department of Homeless Services unwilling to accede to the community’s demands, Biller said Brewer and other elected officials need to push the issue, and possibly go to court.

“If you really stand against this go to court file a lawsuit on behalf of the community, which is overwhelmed and being turned into an open air asylum.”

(What exactly that suit might look like was unclear, though Community Board representative Jay Adolf agreed that a suit was necessary)

Other concerns raised at the meeting included:

It was odd that no one from the Department of Homeless Services showed up. They could have answered a lot of questions. Although, given their track record on this issue so far, maybe it’s not that odd.

In the end, the Community Board passed a resolution by a vote of 40-0 opposing the use of the buildings as shelters. We’ve posted photos of the resolution below and will update once we get the pdf’s. Click to enlarge. Will the resolution do anything? Let us know in the comments!

NEWS | 32 comments | permalink
    1. wyatt says:

      “(Brewer and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal have both been criticized by our commenters for supporting the law to close the hotels)”

      Correction West Side Rag – Not “supporting” the law, but actually drafting it, sponsoring it, not disclosing the SRO portion of Bill, while highlighting the outlawing of renting out individual APARTMENTS and lobbying for the laws passage.

    2. westsideMoms says:

      Brewer is actually denying any culpability here?

      This is here fault 100%!!!

      She was warned by everyone that denying the private owners of their legal livelihood would result in the wholesale decline and rent out to homeless agencies (who appear to have unlimited taxpayer funding).

      Why does Brewer care so much for SROs and not everyone else? Is it because she herself looks like a homeless person? Gale, you get free dental with your job! look into it.

    3. jamal P. says:

      This is what happens when you continue to interfere with private business. and real estate is a business. Let the owners upgrade the buildings and YES charge market rate rents – it costs money to build bathrooms and kitchens and new apartments.

      Will liberal do gooders ever get it?

    4. outragedWestSider says:

      Brewer reiterated at the meeting that she doesn’t think the SROs should be used for “transitional housing” like hotel rooms.

      GALE – it is not your property! this is still America and we have constitution that does not allow the government to take others private property!

      It is not for you to decide. AND now that you did decide and was told this would happen, you are then responsible. No ifs ands or buts.

      You need to withdraw for public “service” you are incompetant.

    5. Doron says:

      Cheryl – I think it was you – you did a great job in summarizing the meeting, and you did it so quickly.
      Legal action and publicity (covered extensively tonight on NBC news) is the only way to stop this.
      What judge when confronted with the shoddy job that DHS is doing in these buildings and knowing that an elementary school was across the street wouldn’t want to issue an injunction to cease this onslaught. Who would want to take the chance that something happens to one of our kids to be on their heads and conscience.

      • Noelle says:

        You are absolutely right. And there is not just an school across the street, there are 3 playgrounds! 1 at the school, one mid-block, and one that bounds Riverside Drive and 96th. And a senior home. It is absurd. The 300 block of 95th is now more than 50% homeless shelter residents, in what world is that safe or reasonable? We must stop this, the City should be accountable for destroying our neighborhood.

      • outragedWestSider says:

        …….that would be one of the extremists liberal judges who have an agenda and contempt for actual taxpaying new yorkers and make decisions that benefit the select few at the expense of everyone else.

        Why does NYC – alone in the entire United States – legally have to provide housing for anyone and everyone who demands it – and apparently it also has to have park views and luxuries. Why work and strive?

    6. Beth says:

      I am in favor of filing a lawsuit against the Department of Homeless Services. What is being done to this neighborhood is really despicable. We need not just a moratorium on shelters in the 90s, but up to 111th Street as as well. It’s pretty clear that we are tired of being the dumping ground for the city’s homeless/mentally ill/substance abusing populations.

      • Noelle says:

        More than 20% of the entire City’s supportive housing is within 1 block of this shelter for 400. How in the world is a community expected to absorb this? It is beyond unfair. We MUST make the City accountable. Lawsuit? YES.

    7. Raoul says:

      What irks me the most is that residents of these SROs pay about $700/mos for a tiny room (about 80 sf) and a shared kitchen and bath. These are working New Yorkers who live and work in our community. The City is paying close to $3500 per room to house 2 homeless clients in each of these closets. What a scam, this is NOT about helping those in need, it’s about $$$, pure and simple. It is a slap in the face to taxpayers and the neighborhood. We can’t stop fighting this, the system is clearly broken and we need to ensure we do not remain victims of this fraud!

    8. NikFromNYC says:

      Welcome to The Tea Party, citizens.

    9. Peter says:

      So what did all of you Obama “share the wealth” liberals think was going to happen in the welfare/entitlement state created by this administration of public sector employees? It’s all good until it comes to a town near you right. The chickens are coming home to roost baby. Now go out and vote to re-elect this guy you losers. Just watch out for the Bogeyman if you have to vote at the school on 96th. Hahahahaha

    10. Morningside Heights says:

      I find the vehement opposition to the homeless shelter offensive and overtly racist. New York City is New York City, not Stanford, CT, which is where I wish you jerks would move.

      Can’t believe I’m siding with the city about anything.

      • jamal P. says:

        again, where is anything racist in any comments?

        and if you want to talk about fairness – the city of New York has to pay for every person who asks for it because of an extreme left wing court order. People are flying in, other cities are busing them to new york. and when you say NY, that means you and I , the taxpayers have to pay. we already pay the highest taxes in the nation as it is.
        Let the federal government or state pay for them. You can pay a lovely house in upstate New York or Florida for under $40,000. It would be cheaper for us to pay for housing there.

      • westsideMoms says:

        OH please save us your racism argument.

        Most of the new derelict crusty new beggers on broadway are white anyway..

        We live in New York and love the diversity – does that mean I have to be assualted on every block by addicts looking for cash to score their next fix? Hell No.

        You extremists make regular democratic NYers look like Newt Gindgrich.

        • Noelle says:

          Exactly. Needs to be grassroots effort to push back on the City. They can’t just take advantage of our compassion like this, they have just pushed us too far. And for those of you pulling the race card, stop it, please, that is not even part of the conversation.

        • em says:

          I think you are confusing “racism” with “classism”.

          I’m Black and I’ve lived in this neighborhood for over 25 years. I’ve lived here through many changes. This is not a change I want for my neighborhood. I have children now. I want the best for them, just like any parent. And the best does not mean living with more homelessness than my neighborhood can hold. I’m not being racist. I’m being honest.

          No one here has made a racist statement and it’s really easy to use that as an excuse to berate people. Most of us are just accustomed to a certain level of living and want a clean, safe area for our kids to flourish in. And we don’t want to have to move to accomplish that.

    11. Kaz says:

      i just remove this blog from my RSS reader. Do not want my kids will be exposed to the racist crap that on that blog
      it is more likely that one the readers will harass or attack a kid in the school or the playground then a week. sick stranger from a shelter. This is the real life statics – not what you watching on Law & Order. Disgusting

      • Jamal P. says:

        show me on “racist” remark….anywhere.

        knee jerk liberals always cry racism to shut any discourse.
        FYI
        I do agree that everyone should be treated the same and that means that no special interest gets free stuff while everyone else has to pay for themselves AND for the others who only take.

        I cannot afford to live on Riverside Drive, but someone who does not pay gets to live there? what kind of policy is that?

      • FTomas says:

        Oh boo hoo, we wont miss you. NO ONE has been racist on this blog, why do you even say that? Nor is anyone being mean-spirited. We are just saying enough is enough, We have 3000+ supportive housing on the UWS, most in the West 90’s. It is not fair, and we deserve a break. This is what happened in the 70’s-80’s when the City turned the UWS into an open air asylum, and they are trying to do it again. We worked REALLY hard to make our neighborhood safe and improve our quality of life, how dare the City and DHS just move in an take over our community, without our say so. It’s wrong.

    12. joe says:

      The homeless shelter business is big bucks for a few very wealthy owners. I know a couple of the families who own these shelters, and it is insane how our tax money is being used to enrich these private owners. They get more money per room, per night, than nice hotels in midtown charge. Remember Morris Horn, who made a mint running rat-infested shelters back in the ’80s.. And, his son, Shimmie, who was involved in bribery scandal a few years back to win city contracts for these shelters..

    13. Aaron Biller says:

      Given the diversity of N90s, the diversity of the neighborhood, the troubled populations that already reside in more than a dozen facilities in the immediate area, the introduction of “racism” is a mud-slinging tactic. Sometimes this is a kneejerk reaction of a tiny group within the community, but I have also experienced flaks for the City agencies involved invoking this word to sidetrack the debate and put a chill on intelligent discussion of issues. My advice: ignore the flamethrowers, it just makes them nuts, or maybe more nuts.

      • Fritz says:

        Well said. I wonder if businesses and schools are as opposed to this transitional housing dump as are residents of the area, this issue directly affects them as well. I am sad and angry about what is happening to my neighborhood, and it is clear Bloomberg cares nothing for the UWS. Can we all please stop voting for “Progressives”? They actually impede progress. We should remember all of this when we step into the voting booth this November.If we don’t, we might as well buy body armor and erect security gates around our homes. Welcome back 1970’s!

        • Anxious dog walker and Mom says:

          Well said. We must get the message across at the voting booth and not keep re electing the same dim bulbs! King Bloomberg and Brewer should never have been allowed the extra terms. Why are police and fire departments being cut while homeless people get $3379 a month rooms. I kill myself working and taking care of a family and I can’t afford that much rent! our taxpayer money is being wasted. Oh…and I am a minority…so keep your racist comments and white guilt in check.

    14. westSider says:

      Contact Gale and Linda and tell them their law is destroying our community.
      gbrewer@council.nyc.gov
      District Office Address
      563 Columbus Ave
      (at the corner of 87th St.)
      New York, New York 10024
      District Office Phone
      (212) 873-0282
      District Office Fax
      (212) 873-0279
      Legislative Office Address
      City Hall Office
      250 Broadway
      Suite 1744
      New York, NY 10007
      Legislative Office Phone
      (212) 788-6975
      Linda Rosenthal
      District Office
      230 West 72nd Street
      Suite 2F
      New York, NY 10023
      212-873-6368

    15. Scooter Stan says:

      Re: “…It was odd that no one from the Department of Homeless Services showed up….”

      Hmmm….Department of Homeless Services … or — DHS.

      Hmmm(2)….Class, can we think of another tax-payer funded public agency with the initials DHS that is also totally dictatorial, unaccountable, unresponsive, quasi-fascist, and possibly a blight on humanity??

      What was that, little Timmy? Speak up! You said “Department of Homeland Security, or DHS?”
      YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!! You may go home early. But be careful walking past those shelters!

    16. RS says:

      It is my understanding that because this is a City contract, there must be a hearing and the State Comptroller must sign off/register the shelter before the operations are legal. Can anyone clarify? Was there a hearing? Let’s ask the Comptroller about this, and find out if it has been validated:
      http://www.osc.state.ny.us/contact.htm
      We must leave no leaf unturned, folks.

    17. RS says:

      Or maybe it’s the City Comptroller, here is the site:
      http://comptroller.nyc.gov/
      One of these offices has to sign off, I am sure of it.

    18. RS says:

      Here it is:
      The New York City Charter requires all contracts or agreements between city agencies and vendors be registered by the New York City Comptroller. The Comptroller’s Office of Contract Administration (OCA) is responsible for reviewing all contracts, contract amendments, leases and concessions between City agencies and vendors to determine whether the agreement should be registered.
      contract@comptroller.nyc.gov

      • outragedWestSider says:

        our city controller is as corrupt as Vito Lopez and the UWS anarchists disguised as democrats.

        Muffy Rosenblatt and the Bowery Mission got tens of millions of taxpayer money and a 35 year lease for a 300+ bed shelter on pricey 25th in chelsea.

        there is an extreme agenda going on here. and contrary to all the rhetoric it is not to benefit bloomy’s rich friends but in fact the opposite.