HOMELESS SHELTER MEETING SET FOR WEDNESDAY; WILL SHELTER CONTRACT BE EXTENDED?


Entrance to 95th Street homeless shelter.

The people responsible for placing a homeless mega-shelter on 95th Street off of Riverside Drive will finally come to the neighborhood to explain the decision and the future of the shelter on Wednesday. The move comes as the shelter, which was allowed to open without review under “emergency” rules, could become “permanent,” one critic tells us.

DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond and Housing Solutions USA CEO Robert Hess (who runs the shelter) are both expected to be present on January 30 at 7 p.m. at Anche Chesed on 100th Street and West End Avenue to address questions about the shelter. Since it was opened in August, the city has given neighbors little explanation as to why the site was chosen and how long the shelter will be there. It is set up to house 400 adults, and was placed in an area that already has numerous shelters and other social service facilities.

Locals were incensed that the shelter was set up in buildings (316 and 330 West 95th Street) where the community already successfully protested another shelter in 2006. The ironic part is that the homeless commissioner at the time the previous shelter was withdrawn was Robert Hess, who now runs the new shelter. He appears to be profiting quite handsomely from his new gig as the chairman and CEO of Housing Solutions, which recently merged with shelter operator Aguila — each of the small units (without kitchens or bathrooms) brings in $3,300 a month. According to Checkbook NYC, a new site that tracks city contracts, the no-bid contract was for $4.38 million and $2.68 million has already been spent.

Elected officials have fought the shelter to no avail.

“I would like to get rid of the shelter,” Councilwoman Gale Brewer said when we talked to her last week. She said she hadn’t heard about whether the operators want to extend their contract to run the shelter, and she wasn’t clear on what the extension process would be.

Brewer said shelter residents have told her they get little support from the shelter operator, and can’t afford food in the nearby stores with their food stamps. Instead, they’ve been going to local soup kitchens run by temples and churches, which are suddenly seeing huge demand. Residents of the buildings who aren’t part of the shelter (about 71 apartments are still for SRO tenants) complain about getting woken up by knocks on their door from people who are looking for drugs. Parents at PS 75 across the street also have found the playground littered with cigarette butts. We’ve written about these and other issues numerous times. You can find our coverage here.

The contract for the shelter is up on February 5. Aaron Biller of advocacy group Neighborhood in the Nineties says the city wants to make the shelters permanent, and he is urging neighbors to show up on Wednesday and demand they be closed down: “Tell Bloomberg NO! – SHOW UP!” Read his full appeal here.

The Department of Homeless Services didn’t respond to our questions about the shelters.

NEWS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Anne says:

      I live near here. My quality of life has definitely changed with addition of the mega-shelter. It’s much dirtier and there are always police and fire vehicles parked in front of this place blocking traffic and turning West 95th in to a parking lot. People drinking and leaving liquor bottles in the park AND playgrounds. I don’t feel safe, especially after dark when there are a lot of people loitering around near the elementary school-a stabbing and assault/mugging of a child recently happened on this block as well. I think NYC is trying to make this a containment zone- put all the shelters and transitional housing here and too bad for the rest of us. Total conflict of interest with the former DHS Commish running this place. There is a lawsuit to be had here somewhere!

    2. NoMore says:

      This guy (Hess) is trying to open another large shelter in Brooklyn (Carroll Gardens) but they got an injunction!!! Where is our injunction??? And what is Brewer saying, she does not know the process? How long has she worked for this town? How long has she loved diminishing the value of the 90s by forcing more and more supportive housing on the neighborhood? What a joke this woman is. She knows exactly what is going on here.3300 for a tiny room with no kitchen or bath? My landlord gets a bit more than half of that from me, and I HAVE A KITCHEN AND A BATH!!! All New Yorkers should be up in arms about our taxpayer money funding this, it’s a gift to these slumlords with nothing but pain for the rest of us, we pay more and live with all of the consequences. Stand up and speak out, people!

    3. Nancy says:

      I understand that it was either Gale Brewer or Linda Rosenthal who actually enabled the housing by leading the legislation to prevent using the space as hotel space. It would be helpful to have an article on the legislative history /regulatory regime that led to this.

    4. DanK says:

      Seriously, this neighborhood NEVER gets a break. It’s always a fight, always. With the addition of this shelter the Lantern NY/NY3 facility has opened 1 block away on 94th, and there is talk of another shelter opening on the same block of 94th. This means supportive/transitional housing for approximately 600 within 1 city block. People need to stop being so apathetic and fight for or neighborhood.

    5. funnyguy says:

      All you liberal Obama-worshipping UWSers are total hypocrites. If this was going down in the UES you’d be righteously wagging your fingers calling them racist and greedy 1%-ers.

      • Cato says:

        They are. We’re not. That’s the difference.

        Oh, and by the way: This is all happening to us. Not to them. Another difference.

        Or, gee, maybe it’s exactly the same difference.

    6. Drew says:

      Okay guys. Tonights the night. If you care at ALL about the well-being and future of the 90s you HAVE to come out tonight. It’s an hour out of your life for the future of your HOME and neighborhood!

    7. Drew says:

      Okay guys. Tonight’s the night. If you care at ALL about the well-being and future of the 90s you HAVE to come out tonight. It’s an hour out of your life for the future of your HOME and neighborhood!