By Joy Bergmann and Carol Tannenhauser
A fourth private hotel on the Upper West Side has been quietly housing women who are homeless since April; it is the Park West Hotel, on Central Park West and 106th Street, formerly known as Astor on the Park.
Two female security guards sitting inside the lobby said “the hotel is closed” when asked if a regular desk clerk was available to speak about rooms. There was a sign-in book at the door and a metal detector wand.
A couple sitting outside on the sidewalk said they didn’t live there, but confirmed that the hotel was “now a homeless shelter.”
A resident of the Park West Hotel named Diana told West Side Rag that she and other women were transferred from a Bronx shelter called Susan’s Place in April “for our safety.” The agency running the program at the Park West is called Care for the Homeless, she said. She added that there may also be permanent residents in the hotel, but homeless women (no children or men) occupy the first six floors of the 11-story building. They are living one person to a room.
A website devoted to free clinics described Susan’s Place:
Care for the Homeless opened Susan’s Place, a 180-bed (now a 200-bed) transitional residence with an onsite medical and dental clinic on August 6, 2008. Susan’s Place is dedicated to serving medically frail and mentally ill homeless women, providing them with healthy meals, clean clothing, recreational activities and a broad range of primary health care and social services.
It was very quiet on the block, just another stately old building. Very different from the tumult further downtown, where neighbors have sparred over three other shelters.
The Department of Homeless Services has been moving homeless people into hotels since the pandemic began to allow for social distancing. The department has not notified the community about these emergency placements — they say they are barred from doing so by law. We reached out to the department for more details on the Park West, and are awaiting their response.