Controversial Homeless Shelter on 95th Street Will Be Moved

After years of community complaints, a controversial homeless shelter at 316 West 95th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive is getting a new operator and moving one block away, according to Council Member Helen Rosenthal. The shelter serves about 200 homeless adults.

The shelter, now known as “Freedom House,” was installed as an “emergency” measure over community opposition in 2012. Nonprofit Aguila won a $47 million contract from the Bloomberg administration to run the facility — $3,600 per room per month — despite a history of violations at other shelters. In 2014, the shelter population was cut in half, but locals continued to voice opposition and complain about safety in the area. Last year, city officials said they would install a new operator.

The new shelter will be operated by a nonprofit called Praxis Housing Initiatives and will be located at 306 West 94th St. between West End and Riverside.

“Like so many residents, I have been extremely concerned about public safety issues at Freedom House for years,” said Rosenthal in a statement. “I am cautiously optimistic that this new facility on W. 94th — with a new provider, who has performed well in other parts of the city, and a more appropriate physical space — will be far better able to serve its residents.”

NEWS | 52 comments | permalink
    1. Juan says:

      A step in the right direction. I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to have a fairly large homeless shelter across the street from an elementary school.

    2. Sherman says:

      This is like moving chairs around on the deck of the Titanic.

    3. FDMSG says:

      There are tenants and minors that live in 306 W 94th where this shelter is being moved to by Praxis. There are concerns for our safety and well being in the building, as this is the landlords way of trying to push us out. I have lived at 306 West 94th for over 30years, and can say I no longer feel as safe as I did before, especially at night. There is more panhandling and people hanging out in the streets then ever before. The noise level has also gone up, along with more drugs and trash. Not to mention its close to PS 75 and nurseries in the area.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        it might very well be true that the landlord is trying to use moving homeless in to push rent stabilized tenants out. how cynical on his part!

    4. Mr. Bloomberg Turtlehead says:

      The place and its management won a contract from that son of a bitch Bloomberg. He found a spot where the liberal-minded populace did not support his crap, and he off-loaded an unsafe shelter, at an absurd price, upon us. Rest assured, that if the area was his beloved upper east side, the shelter would have had NO CHANCE of being placed there. What a worm.

      • Neighborhood is a Dump says:

        So why are our local representatives only moving it 1 block away?

      • robert says:

        Actually Bloomberg did not due this. Non profits went to the admin when it put out requests for bids for shelters. The city didn’t say put it here or there. the bids on the city contract said we can house x amount of people for z $$$$. This has been done for years across the city, by many administrations – including de Balz These non profits, which are in fact that only on paper, look at the huge salaries being taken out by former city gov officials running these org.’s These org’s have long been supported in putting these facilities on the UWS by our elected’s and the usual group of self appointed community leaders. When city council member “X” on the UWS was willing to accept these sites, surprise, surprise the others in city government were more than willing to agree, as they and their constituents made it clear they did not want them in their areas across the city.

    5. Gee says:

      are you serious? they are moving one block over and think that’s the answer?

    6. Rob G. says:

      What a joke. Moving a horrible shelter one block away is window dressing.

      Anyone who attended the meeting at PS 75 witnessed the long, sad line of exhausted neighborhood residents speaking about the misery they have endured living near “Freedom House” for the past six years.

      The DHS and city spokespeople cried crocodile tears, but basically said, “too bad.”

      And word has it that the existing building on 95th Street will be turned into yet more supportive housing. For whom? More drug addicts? More mental patients? Another homeless shelter?

      What’s the point of having community input when the community has no say in the matter?

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        we have a superb supportive housing facility on the block, the Veteran’s housing run by Harlem United and Bailey House. it is right next door to Freedom House. if they take over this building and can offer more supportive housing to vets, so much the better. I think most area residents would support that.

        • Rob G. says:

          I think what most area residents would support is a respite from the inordinate number of welfare and social service housing units that the city has rammed down their throats.

          I’m guessing they would also like to walk down the street or into the 7-11 without being blocked, harassed, or accosted for spare change by some of the residents of that housing, and that includes the housing for veterans.

          • Your Neighbor says:

            And how many posting have rent stabilized apartments? A show of hands please. I thought so….

            • Total control says:

              I’m stabilize from 1968 my rent has never gone up under the special Renovation act. I still pay $125 for a floor through garden two bedroom apartment!! and I pay my rent once every five years, what’s it to you !

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            Rob G. says:

            “I’m guessing they would also like to walk down the street or into the 7-11 without being blocked, harassed, or accosted for spare change by some of the residents of that housing, and that includes the housing for veterans.”

            this is part and parcel of the gross exaggeration that takes place about the homeless and panhandlers on Bway. I am very familiar with the man who sits in front of the 7-11. He blocks, harasses, and accosts no one. He has the right to sit there and is as polite and demure as can be. I wonder if you treat him with the same respect he treats you?

            Rob G. has made lurid claims about the homeless “taking over our streets.” this is par for the course: people can make any angry attacks on the homeless or the poor, without any regard for actual facts. Since Rob G. made that claim, I have made a point of paying attention to how many panhandlers are on BWay around the 96th street area. there are far fewer than Rob would have you believe, the most i have seen is one per block. Often when i walk home, there are none at all. I have not seen an aggressive one since Rob claimed they have “taken over the streets.”

            i don’t deny that homelessness is a huge problem in NYC, but there’s no need to exaggerate and create lurid images of what is happening on Bway.

            • Rob G. says:

              I don’t doubt that perhaps the times you’ve counted the panhandlers you’ve only seen one per block. But it doesn’t mean that’s all there ever are (which incidentally are far more compared to what I see in many other neighborhoods.)

              As for myself, I have counted up to four on the stretch between 96th & 97th alone. Normally there are at least two at any given time. Then again, I walk that block at least twice a day.

              So I am curious if you honestly think that I (and so many more of your neighbors) are really lying, hallucinating, or both?

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              well, Rob, you misstated facts about the man in front of the 7-11, who never accosts people nor blocks the door. i believe your irrational anger stops you from seeing things as they really are.

              I am willing to do a systematic study jointly with you regarding the number of panhandlers / homeless on Bway around 96th. let’s make a sample of several times during the week and weekend and see what the count is. also, let’s walk down 95th and see how often we get hassled. (answer: never). and how many “gangs” we see.

              i can’t do it during working hours during the week but am available on weekends and weekday nights.

              the fact is that to say “the homeless have taken over the street” is a gross exaggeration.

              there are a few more than in some other neighborhoods but far less than the area around Penn Station and many areas in midtown and less than the area around Bway and 72nd. Which, by the way, does not have much supportive housing.

              also, let’s recall: the VICTIMS of homelessness are the homeless, not the people who are “burdened” by looking at them.

        • AT says:

          Absolutely true. I live on the block next to the vet building. It’s a pleasure and I’ve never felt uncomfortable by anyone there. I unfortunately can’t say the same for Freedom House. According to another article I read, the new shelter will be for strictly families which is completely different than the current occupants at FH. Also, the new operator seems to already have a good record with the city and communities they are already in. It may not be ideal but hopefully it’ll be a major improvement.

      • Your Neighbor says:

        Wow you seem so angry at having something that will help people in your neighborhood. You would complain just as loudly if it was a new 60 story skyscraper. You are not trapped here, it is a beautiful city. Maybe you can find someplace else to live there. Best wishes to you.

        • Rob G. says:

          Get yourself educated about the problem, “Your “Neighbor,” and you’ll find that most residents in these UWS shelters and agency-run buildings are brought in from elsewhere.

          As for me, yes I am angry – at the DHS and local politicians for dropping such an unfair burden on us.

          The “Fair Share” law continues to be broken, and we now have a huge untenable mess in the north of 86th street.

          By the way, I find it ironic that your code name is “Your Neighbor“ when you clearly have no empathy for your neighbors, or even an understanding of your own neighborhood.

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            Rob G., you’re trapped in a hell of your own making.

          • Your Neighbor says:

            Well Rob G. I am educated and educated about the issue. Just because my opinion differs from yours does not mean I am not educated. So because someone lives in another part of the city or had lived that means they are excluded from the UWS according to your logic (if you could even call it that).

            As far as your unfair burden, i am not sure your burden is any different than any of your neighbors, so what is this monumental burden you are struggling with. Again just a lot of words.

            You say I have a lack of empathy for my neighbors, but you really should learn to read your own posts when you are less angry. I do have empathy for all those involved in this situation.

            If you are so outraged you should run for office and try and change things, you may find you fit right in. You could also move somewhere that no one will bother you. Your anger might just give you a heart attack.

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            last night i got off the subway, as usual, at 96th street and Bway. it was about 8:30 PM, a typical time. Sometimes i am earlier, sometime i am much later (10, 11, or even later).

            I walked along Bway to West Side Market, circa 98th, and then back to 95 and and down to Riverside. As i have done recently, i made a point to note how many panhandlers and others were on the street.

            there were ZERO panhandlers or homeless on both sides of Bway, 95th — 98th. there was a man standing silently smoking a cigarette in front of MacDonalds but he was not asking for money.

            there were ZERO people from the homeless shelter sitting on stoops or outside between Bway and Riverside on 95th.

            the only solicitations were the auxiliary police force, recruiting in the Bway subway “island” / plaza.

            this is typical of evenings in the area. yes, sometimes you see a quiet panhandler or two. Usually, not.

            the biggest “quality of life” issue on that stretch, by far, is that the block on Bway between 96 and 95th is almost entirely vacant. this is hardly the fault of the homeless.

            i don’t think facts will make any difference on the “angry at the poor” contingent, but nevertheless facts should be stated.

    7. robert says:

      All they are doing is moving the problem from 95 to 94

    8. Bill says:

      Ugh….. So what is the cost of the new facilty, the Alexander Hotel? The silence is deafening.

    9. Scott says:

      Lovely scam operation, all billed to taxpayers. Shameful.

    10. Charles says:

      Why do the homeless need to be in the city? Surely they just add to policing costs? And why do drug addicts expect the public to subsidise their addiction?

      • dannyboy says:

        “Why do the homeless need to be in the city?”

        Charles,

        Pretty much for the same reasons anyone needs to be in the city: to live, to eat, to shop, to socialize…

        Or do you have other required qualifications for living in the city?
        their wealth
        their color
        they’re more like Charles…

    11. Scott says:

      May I suggest the city lease this unit on the outskirts of Syracuse and use that instead.

      http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/5415-W-Genesee-St-Camillus-NY/12755728/

      The whole place can be had for $210,000 a year, about what they’d spend in 1 month on the UWS. Shared kitchen, private bathrooms. Get on it DHS.

    12. Bob says:

      Send them to the Bronx thats where they belong. Moving them one block is not the solution. You can see groups of them at the corners of 95 street or 94st at midnight. Ever doing drug trading or worst. Safety around the area has gone downhill ever since they brought the no ones here.

      What user FDMSG wrote is also true. It seems they are bringing these bums also over at 308 and 319 of 94 street also. You can see highly unpleasant people hanging around the entrances or near of these buildings. But its not as bad as at 95st.

      • dannyboy says:

        “Send them to the Bronx that’s where they belong.” – Bob

        As a Bronx native, I wonder what you meant by that.

      • E. says:

        “Send them to the Bronx thats where they belong. Moving them one block is not the solution.”

        WTF??

      • Chipper says:

        I’ve lived at 96 and West End for over a decade. Ive never seen these alleged gangs of loiterers or drug dealers. That said it seems absurd to overburden one small neighborhood with service provision when there is a whole city.

        • Scott says:

          Try a whole state. Callahan v. Carey never ordered the city to house indigents within the 5 boros. It was a *state* supreme court decision. Plattsburgh, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse can all take our homeless, and at much lower cost than what our corrupt pols pay well-connected slumlords.

      • J. L. Rivers says:

        This is the most stupid and most arrogant comment I’ve read in this blog in a long time.

    13. I Give Up says:

      Is it not enough that there is homeless housing already across the street on 94th? WTF! As a property owner on 94/riverside, this is the last straw. I’m out UWS!

    14. Ellen says:

      One block south, how is that helpful?

    15. ellen says:

      $3600/room/month?! Wonder how many square feet and whether the new rooms cost the same? More? Let’s go Rag, for some more details, please, about this incredible boondoggle. This time it’s the DiBlasio administration that’s responsible — and should be called to task.

    16. Chrigid says:

      $3,600 per room per month??? You could get an entire apartment for that kind of money.

      Any explanation of why moving instead of changing operators is the solution?

    17. Lis Anderson says:

      As a person born, educated and delighted with the parks, etc. of The Bronx, WHY SEND THEM TO MY BELOVED HOME?

    18. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      I live at the Riverside end of 95th, and frequently come home late at night. I have a very different experience with the residents of the homeless shelter than others are describing.

      On nice nights, there will be people hanging out on stoops on both sides of the street. these are both men and women. They have been universally friendly to me, in many years i can’t think of anyone saying an unpleasant word. in general, i feel that people hanging out on stoops — since when do NYers complain about that? it’s a time honored tradition — make the block safer, not more dangerous.

      I can’t recall anyone ever trying to sell me drugs.

      i think the majority of residents might feel safer in this shelter than in some other shelters, and thus have an incentive to be on their best behavior so they can stay there.

      I’m a man, so i can’t make the argument that the experience is not different for women making that walk down the block alone. i’ve personally never witnessed any hostile or abusive remarks directed towards women. that doesn’t mean they don’t occur. at least one woman in my building told me she has gotten hostile remarks.

      i don’t claim my experience is universal, but i am a little skeptical about some of the statements being made. Certainly some of the statements above are abusive towards the homeless.

      • Your Neighbor says:

        I believe your comments and insight are very accurate based on my experience as well. I see a lot of hot air, hyperbole and Not in my backyard mentality. Very sad, and not very progressive. But then again some people have been living in a paid for bubble for so many years they begrudge someone else having something or some place to lay their head. It is a shame. Perhaps all the heartless people commenting can realize they can move to Syracuse or the Bronx or whatever suitable place they desire instead of being so intolerant to the problems of a large city. It is tough living in New York City but you do have a choice now dont you? Enjoy your freedom, and move if you would like to experience something different or better. The world is your oyster is it not?

    19. Kitty says:

      How many homeless shelters are on Staten Island? Just curious….

    20. Lis Anderson says:

      News flash: People are individuals, not popped out of cookie cutters. The homeless “crisis” is decades old. The majority of Americans earnings don’t come close to supporting such huge rents/condo/coop costs. THAT is the real problem!!!

    21. Ina R says:

      Wow! What great solution! Let’s move the shelter one block down and hope for the best. You have got to be kidding!
      Why do the homeless need to live in a high property value area at tax payers expense. Surely there are more economical solutions which can actually deliver more help to the homeless themselves. Personally I too would like to walk a block down tot he subway without being harassed.
      Please keep us posted if there will be any hearing regarding this issue.

    22. Mark Moore says:

      One block? You almost got me excited there.

    23. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      The Veterans supportive housing on W 95th between West End and Riverside is a superb facility. I am proud they are on the block.

      it is run by two not-for-profits, Harlem United and Bailey House. they are doing an outstanding job.

      I sit on the community advisory board for the facility and they are responsive to all concerns of the community and residents. A lot of community residents are involved in the facility, through volunteering and sitting on the advisory board.

      there is too much anger in the postings about supportive housing on the UWS, and too many myths and lurid tales being created. Why is this?

    24. Chris says:

      Call me cynical, but this sounds more like a way to ADD to our neighborhood’s quality of life problems than a way to give us relief.

    25. UWS Guy says:

      What % of supporters actually own their apartment? Try reselling your property with with it surrounded by shelters. This is damaging the value of our homes. Call me a yuppie pig but I worked my ass off to afford to buy my place. Its easy to not care when your rent is stabilized and your hard earned money isn’t being pissed down the drain.

      • dannyboy says:

        Now it’s out there.

        It’s all about your money.

        That is some justification for marginalizing your neighbors.

        That is some justification for maligning your neighbors.

        That is some justification for wanting your neighbors gone.

        That is some justification for believing that you are better than your neighbors.

        That is some justification for acting like you are better than your neighbors.

        That is some justification for wanting your neighbors gone.

        That is some justification for the meanness of your character.

        From a rent regulated person who see indecency in the neighborhood.

        Shame!

        • UWS Guy says:

          A simple thank you for subsidizing your lifestyle would have been sufficient. I am not marginalizing or maligning anyone. A healthy balance is fine. We are way past that point. Your response is ridiculous.

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            ummm… just for the record, @UWSGuy:

            any economist will tell you that most likely DannyBoy is subsidizing your “lifestyle” much more than you are subsidizing his.

            if you have a mortgage, and it sounds like you do, you are receiving a large federal tax subsidy through the mortgage interest deduction. further, this deduction also applies to your state and city taxes, this a further subsidy. in addition, your mortgage is most likely federally insured, which is another subsidy.

            DannyBoy lives in a rent stabilized apartment. contrary to the beliefs of many right wingers on this site, that is not a government subsidy.

            what it is, in fact, is a redistribution of the economic proceeds of the building. the landlord gets a smaller share, and DannyBoy gets a larger share (or pays a smaller share– same thing).

            it is no more a “subsidy” than a minimum wage law, or when a union negotiates a wage increase.

            now, it is true that the building most likely gets some sort of tax relief for being rent stabilized, and DannyBoy can be said to share in that. but this subsidy is an order of magnitude less than what you are most likely getting through your federal, state, and city housing subsidies.

            people in apartments with big mortgages most likely receive larger housing subsidies on the UWS than people living in NYCHA housing.

            just sayin’…

          • dannyboy says:

            You argue against providing shelter to people who are in need by saying “Try reselling your property with with it surrounded by shelters. This is damaging the value of our homes.” and you dare call my response ridiculous?.

            Then you claim to be subsidizing me. What! Do you really believe that you and your attitude are helping me in any way? Go ahead and believe that your richness and largess are the real benefits to the UWS, but the reality is that they are not.