People showed up at a recent community board meeting to protest a new homeless shelter at 316-330 West 95th Street.

Residents at a new homeless shelter on 95th Street between West End and Riverside say apartments are infested with bed bugs, roaches and mice, and that the lack of cooking facilities forces them to eat out all the time. They told a reporter from the Associated Press that police are regularly entering the shelter to break up fights and people knock on their doors in the middle of the night looking for drugs.

Some local residents don’t let their kids walk alone in the area anymore, and others complain about an increase in panhandling and people peeing in doorways.

The Associated Press article about the shelter raises more questions about city oversight and whether the 95th Street location really makes sense for the shelter. We’ve written about the issue extensively, and covered a recent meeting about it here.

But the article also raises an issue that’s a little puzzling: It implies that the shelter is upsetting people because it’s in a “wealthy” neighborhood, where shelters haven’t been placed before.

“Bloomberg’s mini-shelter boom is increasingly bringing the controversy to the doorstep of traditionally wealthy neighborhoods where shelters aren’t as prevalent — and where residents are much more vocal in airing their grievances,” the article says. A blog post in the Village Voice expanded on that theme, charging that homelessness is suddenly “a problem for the haves in New York’s wealthier areas” and claiming that neighborhood is filed with “homeless-hating crusaders.”

But the 90’s is chock-full of social-support organizations and shelters; according to activist group “Neighborhood in the Nineties” the city houses more than 1,000 “special needs” residents in the 90’s and low-100’s. The new shelter isn’t a sudden invasion of poor people into an otherwise wealthy exclusionist neighborhood; it’s more of the same for an area that has taken on well more than its share of homeless and otherwise troubled residents in the past few decades. And the very buildings that were turned into a shelter were also used to house the homeless over loud community protests in 2006.

(It’s also a bit questionable to say the mid-90’s is “wealthy”. Look up stats for the school across the street from the shelter and you’ll see most of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunches.)

In fact, look at an article from almost 20 years ago (above) and it’s clear that homeless shelters aren’t a new phenomenon here.

“[S]mall business is no longer the dominant industry of the Upper West Side. Homelessness is,” Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in New York magazine in 1994. “Proof isn’t hard to find. In a single, one-mile square section of the Upper West Side — from 90th Street to 100th Street, Central Park to the river, there are now more than 80 city, state and privately-run social service facilities, and activists charge that as many as five new facilities are being opened each year.”

That era is mostly over. And yet, there are a lot of local residents who fear it could be creeping back.

People are upset about the shelter because they feel like this area has taken on more than it’s “fair share” of the city’s social service population. And the community hasn’t gotten any assurances about security at the building; it’s also not clear that the homeless people or remaining SRO residents there are safe (nearby SRO residents have spoken out about concerns for their safety). Some people also find it grating that the city is paying $3,300 per kitchen-less bathroom-less room. That’s why people are upset. It’s probably not because they’re “wealthy.”

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 15 comments | permalink
    1. David says:

      No point in complaining. LEAVE! Let the morons inherit the destroyed neighborhood and bear the financial costs their mindless policies engender. Plan to return in 5 – 10 years after the idiots have exhausted themselves and buy an apartment 10x bigger.

    2. dave Mason says:

      Big shock.

      The same idiots who just landmarked the entire UWS and made sure blacks and Hispanics are expelled (Census studies have shown diversity ALWAYS drops in landmarked areas)dont like homeless people.

      Perfect liberal hypocrisy from the famed-liberal UWS.

      • Missing the point says:

        You seem to be missing the whole point of the article: the UWS has historically taken on *much more* than its fair share of social support housing…

    3. Beth says:

      There are very wealthy and very poor in the 90s ,including 95th where a studios can rent for close to $3K/mos and will sell for nearly $600K. Whatever the case, a 400 bed homeless shelter is absurd and flies the face of NYC guidelines. Especially when the shelter contract is awarded to Robert Hess, former DHS Commissioner, and tenants were given 3 hours notice of the new residents and now must share their group kitchens and bathrooms. There is major corruption here, and it will be discovered, the neighborhood is fed up, liberals and conservatives alike know when they are being screwed by the City.

      • David says:

        True, but don’t expect it to get better before it gets MUCH worse. Look at the history. This is JUST starting and has a long way to go before it exhausts itself.

    4. NikFromNYC says:

      Four more?

    5. K says:

      This is not moving on a good path. Is there any way to
      redirect it? I don’t know. It’s more about real estate and how owners can obtain a return on their investment. West 95th is not insular. A year ago, on West 25th Street between 6/7, a similar situation evolved. An entrepreneur took over a building, turned it into a shelter for several hundred addicts. The neighborhood was in an uproar. It made no difference. Now, the block is populated, especially at night by people who raise fear in those who work on the block. These are very sad people. Where do they go? I don’t know. Are we not being tolerant? Maybe. Do we have a right to walk to the subway without fear? I hope so. This is so complicated.

    6. BILL says:

      maybe if transportation comm. chaka khan put a bike lane on this block,tensions would ease

    7. beth says:

      K, I know about the whole Chelsea debacle. That was wrong as well. However, we have a shelter TWICE that size now on 95th, across the street from an elementary school, 3 playgrounds, a senior home, and a huge, dark park. Additionally, the West 90s have a much higher concentration of supportive housing than Chelsea. It has nothing to do with tolerance, it’s about FAIR SHARE and the fact that the West 90s have a right to safety and a decent quality of life. We are a dumping ground, and perhaps some think we are mean-spirited, but enough is enough. We have always been tolerant, but that doesn’t mean we should be taken advantage of. A 400 bed shelter on a small block with a large elementary school and several playgrounds is nonsensical. And the residents can’t afford food in the neighborhood, so how is good for them. It’s a disaster.

    8. westsideMoms says:

      out of touch dogooders Linda Rosenthal and Gale Brewer are 100% DIRECTLY responsbile for this huge problem. Call their office, email them , write them , and express the outrage.

      They sponsored, lobbied and pushed the law that outlawed the SRO hotels from being hotels (Brewer sniffed she did not like sharing the sidewalk with backpackers – I kid you not).
      We told them that OTHER agencies of the same city government would – behind closed doors – cut deals to take over the SROs.. and that is exactly what happened. For them to say they have nothing to do with is an untrue, to say the least.

      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

      Legislative Office Fax
      (212) 513-7717

      Linda Rosenthal
      District Office
      230 West 72nd Street
      Suite 2F
      New York, NY 10023
      District Office Directions
      Albany Office
      741 LOB
      Albany, NY 12248
      Albany Office Directions

    9. outragedWestSider says:

      WSR Admin – thank you for writing the above rebuttal to the article and bringing the NY mag article. There was also a link to a story going back to the 1960s and how SROs destroy neighborhoods.

      My question to you is why you are letting out elected officials off the hook and not accountable for their actions ?
      Gale and LInda have much to answer for and to correct.

    10. jamal P. says:

      This clearly has become the City policy – same story is happening in Cobble Hill Brooklyn – at 10 unit condo building is being converted to a 170 bed shelter.

      I am scratching my head that the City has money for all this while basically punishing those who stayed and rebuilt these areas and neighbhorhoods. Such contempt for the working taxpayers of this City , I am disgusted , We need an alternative to the democratic political machine that runs this town.

    11. jamal P. says:

      UWS – please see what is happening via backroom dealings in Cobble Hill. See link below.

      Same Mr. Hess is behind this one as well – where is the investigation?

    12. Jenny says:

      Paying $3,300 per room on the UWS instead of giving the homeless housing checks for $1,100 so that they can rent real apartments for instance in Inwood or the Bronx is insane and the responsible city officials should be investigated for misuse of taxpayer money.