Another Local Hotel Shelters Women Who Are Homeless, ‘For Our Safety’

CPW and 106th.

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.

NEWS | 71 comments | permalink
    1. World Peacenik says:

      I received Helen Rosenthal’s very detailed letter. From her letter…

      “Some think that the UWS is deteriorating along with their property values…

      “I am personally responding to as many of these communications as possible, and in particular, trying to address frightening rumors and other inaccurate information…

      “By getting accurate answers to your questions, all of us can be guided by facts, rather than misconceptions and rumors.”

      If she can get her ‘Dear Neighbors’ to transform, ie. “Some of you have reached out with deep compassion, unity, and a neighborly desire to do our part as the city faces the twin crises of the pandemic and homelessness.” she will have done a yeowoman’s job. “

      • cma says:

        Amen! Helen (and Linda and Mark?)needs to hold a community zoom meeting with speakers who are upset in dialogue with those calling for compassion and with service providers and some homeless residents…bring folks together and find workable solutions.

    2. Honest Bob says:

      I pay a ridiculous cost to live in the UWS (barely can afford) and these beautiful hotels/locations are giving rooms away. Doesn’t feel right.

      • CG says:

        I don’t know about Park West, but the Belleclaire and the Lucerne were not renting rooms to tourists, because of the PANDEMIC. Perhaps you’ve heard of it ?

        The reason for sheltering the homeless in hotels is to enable social distancing during a health crisis, but an additional benefit is that it throws a financial lifeline to the city’s hotels, which have been devastated by the lockdown and the disappearance of tourism.

      • LK says:

        Not just giving rooms away. Your tax dollars are paying for these rooms.

      • PearlClutchingUWSer says:

        The fact that you could pay, even barely just to be here compared to a person who needs a place to live after hitting their lowest of lows is why you’re part of the problem. If you can live here your life has been downright charmed.

        Keep the snobbishness to yourself you entitled child

        • Check Your Privilege says:

          Ouch! Honest Bob should drop his “snobbishness”, stop working and then kind people like you will pay for him to live in the IWS. Clearly working hard to manage a decent life is the pinnacle of “snobbishness.”

        • Mohammed says:

          I can afford to live on UWS and therefore my life has been charmed? I started working at the age of twelve to feed myself during a Civil War in my country. I saw my parents killed in front of my eyes. Yes, my life has been charmed indeed…

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            reply to Mohammed:

            so having gone through what you have, you are not sympathetic to the women in the PArk West?

            • Balebusta says:

              As usual here comes Bruce on his moral high horse to attack peoples real and valid experiences. Why does Mohammed have to defend himself to you? I will never understand your extreme/radical views. Most of the commenters and community members are not against human rights! No one is saying we don’t give a F about people in need. We all have expressed compassion repeatedly. What people are fearful of and furious about is the real dangerousness that is now present in our community — danger that has not been seen in decades. You assume that anyone who doesn’t share your views is some TrumpBot radical Right wing nut job. You make so many awful assumptions and accusations about others. We are not all living with silver spoons in our mouths here! I don’t understand why people on the extreme end of things (Left and Right side) don’t get that there is vast nuance to all of this!! Are people entitled to safe housing? According to NYS law, yes. Shouldn’t the tax paying community be afforded the same privilege???? Like Mohammed, my life was NOT charmed. I grew up here in Manhattan, lived in low income housing as a child, started working at 9 years old (yes 9 years old where I was left to babysit a 1 year old by myself and was grateful for the work and money) — I have literally been working 30 years of my life. I have experienced trauma, discrimination and all manner of horrors. The assertion that my desire to live in a neighborhood not riddled with drugs and crime represents some elitist viewpoint is absurd. I worked very hard to be where I am, and I do not live a luxurious life. I contribute significantly to the tax base of this community and operate a business that locally employs 6 people. I truly do not feel safe walking around the neighborhood anymore and if you can’t see how the neighborhood has become unsafe, that is simply willful ignorance. And by the way, my entire career has been built on helping other people, advocating for those oppressed, providing pro bono and low fee treatment and much more.

        • Peace says:

          Please reply like a kind, informed adult and remember in order to make change you have to be change.

        • Will says:

          Thank you for the honest perspective. To be honest, I’m glad the UWS is showing itself for the racist posh enclave that always tries to mask itself as a liberal and tolerant neighborhood. It was maybe 30 years ago, but now it’s an area with yuppies who use thinly coded phrases like “family values” and “property values” to decry less fortunate folks.

        • Maggie says:

          No need to be unkind. This is someone who might stop whining if the facts are explained to her in a non-condescending way. We are all in this together.

        • Citygal says:

          Pearl….. you are clearly the problem. Not Honest Bob. So very sad …… you are so very sad. You are destroying this amazing neighborhood and city. People like Bob and myself have worked hard our entire lives to save our hard earned dollars to live in a beautiful, clean and safe environment. We deserve it. You should leave and take all your drug addicted, alcoholic, dangerous friends with you and leave us to enjoy our peaceful, clean and safe neighborhood.

      • Don A says:

        Try being homeless! See how that feels.

      • Anita says:

        No relationship between those two points

    3. Astrid says:

      Is this a joke or what

    4. amanda says:

      I’ve been an upper west sider all my life and I’m so happy that these people are being given places to live . These rooms are empty , and people are hungry and vulnerable on the street, what a horror. It’s expensive to live on the upper west side, but that’s not these homeless people’s fault, but rather the developers ruining our community by kicking out the small businesses and jacking up rent. I’m so happy that these people can have a place here with us. I hope that even POST-covid we continue to provide housing for everyone and bring community back to the upper west side.

      • Crood says:

        Your comment must be joke right? Its the homeless fault in part for being homeless. Offer them a job i bet you 100% they will not accept it becuase they like living from your taxes.

        • Don A says:

          “Its the homeless fault in part for being homeless.” And what are you basing this on? Have you done research on how people become homeless, especially in a pandemic? Keep your inane comments to yourself unless you have something to contribute not just baseless, privileged conjecture.

      • Dan says:

        Sorry, not happy. My 12 year old son got mugged in front of the laundromat on West 79th. Broad day light. 2 pm. Now, I have to follow around my kid so he doesn’t get hurt? BS. Helen is the worst.She obvioulsy doesn’t care about kids.

      • G. A. Vaughn says:

        It offers a safe place for people! It’s a great idea.

      • Mindy says:

        Thank you to everyone that wants to “Be the Change we wish to see in the world” The ones who dont they are the problem. Not these woman who are able to finally sleep without worry of sexual assault, axcess to keep up personal hygineine for job interviews, and meals regurlery without going days or a week untill the next. I cant understand how anyone can be upset about this?
        *Thank you to the people and the Hotel that has made it possible for these woman to recive what many of us take for granted!*

      • Anita says:

        Yes, Amanda!!!! I hope everyone reads this!! I feel better about my neighborhood knowing people like you live in it!!

    5. Susan says:

      Elections have consequences.

    6. Alice says:

      The reputation of the UWS as welcoming has gone way too far and it’s time to stop being victimized by the people we elected. These representatives work for us and we are being ill served by them. I’m feeling vulnerable in my own neighborhood and tired of being screamed at by mentally ill strangers and having to witness people using the sidewalks as toilets. If our elected officials want to help people, do it so it doesn’t interfere with other people’s rights to live peacefully in their neighborhood. The hotel residents should know if they don’t respect their neighbors, they will be removed from the hotels. No drugs, No public drinking, no harassment, wear masks.
      Only when these officials know they serve us and don’t automatically get too keep their jobs because they are Democrats will there be any change.

    7. MK says:

      I’m one of those people. Not on the UWS, though I know it well having lived there in the late 80s. In a different place but the majority of us we are not trouble. I lost my home because if illness and a natural disaster. No drugs, no alcohol, just life throwing me some steep curve balls. I’m almost out but the inhumanity I’ve been reading from the folks on the UWS really bothers me. I was once one of you. What happened to me can happen to anyone. I sincerely hope it never happens to you, but I ask you please THINK, before you condemn us all, WAIT, and try to have compassion. Some of us have hard it very hard indeed and respect from fellow humans is very hard to come by when you are homeless for any reason. But please don’t assume the worst of all of us because many of us don’t deserve it. I didn’t ask for what happened to me but I’ve had people heap scorn on my head like you would not believe, even tell me I’m I’ll and homeless because I sinned. It’s painful enough being homeless let alone being the subject of such hate. One day soon I won’t be homeless anymore. I hope when I am I can remember what it was like to be homeless and act accordingly. TY

      • MK says:

        Sorry my spelling is bad when I am tired. Please feel free to correct it. TY

        • World Peacenik says:

          Your spelling is like mine.

          If reading these comments make you feel stigmatized by failure and rejected by the neighborhood, take heart.

          These commenters ARE NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF OUR COMMUNITY, of which you are now a part and CAN”T BE THROWN OUT like something unwanted.

      • Anita Silverman says:

        Ty, thank you for your efforts in trying to restore some compassion and humanity in this troubling world. Please keep speaking up. I wish you all the best!

    8. ST says:

      The issue is not providing shelter. The issue for me has always been—even before the four hotel shelters for Covid—that the UWS has a disproportionate share of supportive housing compared to other neighborhoods. Now it is wildly disproportionate. As usual Helen Rosenthal and CB7 have done nothing to get the UWS fairness.

      • Beth says:

        I agree with you. The problem is the disproportionate concentration of homeless and mentally ill on the UWS.

        While WSR describes the 70s as an area of “tumult”
        because of the recent conversion of the Lucerne into a homeless shelter, the fact is that for us living in the 90s and 100s we are constantly living in tumult. Our concentration of homeless shelters and supportive housing is much higher than it is in the 70s and 80s. There are in some places in the 90s and 100s múltiple SROs or homeless shelters on the same block. That doesn’t make for a viable neighborhood.

        Concentrating large numbers of needy people in one neighborhood is a huge hardship on the neighborhood and the people who live there. In particular, deinstitiutionalization of the mentally ill has failed. It is unreasonable to expect a neighborhood to bear the responsibility of mentally ill people who refuse services.

    9. Ronald M. says:

      so people are protesting a shelter for men below 96 and a shelter for women above 96 is ok. It is obvious that when comparing the 2 shelters men are denied appropriate services unlike women who are provided with healthy meals, clean clothing, recreational activities and a broad range of primary health care and social services. The men are viewed as violent, roaming around and hanging out in groups, drugs without evidence, etc. This is a clear case of gender bias, however it is understandable. Like many shelters for men they are denied services that will offer them the clean clothes, nutrition, recreational that will give them direction and a sense of belonging. Men’s shelters seem to foster inappropriate behaviors unlike a woman’s shelter that will actual provide them with services that will help them to blend in with the community.

    10. LJ says:

      Most native NYers are more accepting and understanding than the transplants. Rebecca from Sunnybrook farms wants to live the Sex and the City life

      • ST says:

        Perhaps Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms is more concerned because she is a Rebecca. Women no matter where no matter when will always have to worry about sexual assault. Recently saw a homeless man harassing a young woman on Columbus. He stopped when I went up to her. The notion that those born and bred here (most of those I know left long ago) and those who moved here for work opportunities have different views on personal safety and hygiene is ridiculous IMO.

    11. Chris says:

      The homeless do not belong in Hotels. Build housing on Governors Island, could house all of NYC homeless there

      • World Peacenik says:

        But there are already built hotels, that are currently vacant, available for immediate occupancy.

        That is the nature of a crisis.

      • Ton says:

        Agree, Chris. Wish they did this 25 years ago when they decommissioned the Coast Guard and the buildings were in good shape. could have made an amazing Workfare program. We have enough parks. And now it is a vanity park, only open seasonally.

    12. Cynthia roman says:

      My name is Cynthia n i was homeless cause my house burned down we are not all bad ppl its not what you got through its how you go through it n I did it with one leg asthma depression anxiety and suicidal ideation on my own

    13. Jennifer K Waite says:

      I can tell you that a program just like this one saved my life in Helena MT. About 17 yrs ago. I slept on the bank of river there in a camp that the homeless made. Had i not joined this womens program i wouldnt be here today. I struggled with alcohol and domestic violence for years. This really saved my life. I was able to get treatment for drinking and have a roof over my head for the first time in about 4 yrs. I had food and clean clothes and i could actually shower. I felt human again and most importantly i felt cared about and very lucky.
      I hope these women take full advantage of the program there and be honest with the staff about their needs. I am so gratefull for the help i got when i needed it the most.

    14. Elissa Levine9 says:

      I am a 74 year old lady living at an Inn in DC until my retirement money runs out next week. I will need a place to stay. I have been on many senior housing lists but not been able to secure a place. I still work when in can get a job in restaurants and retail. What do you suggest I do for my uncertain future. future

    15. Leon says:

      I think that if all of the hotels were housing law-abiding homeless people, there would be much less of an uproar. I have mixed feelings about the concept, but I could accept it.

      But the key is law-abiding. There are clearly plenty of men in the three disputed hotels who are law-abiding. But there are too many who are not. If the police were enabled to do their jobs and the security team at the hotels did their jobs, there would be far less complaining. And perhaps most importantly, this would best enable those hotel residents who truly view it as a stepping stone to a more permanent situation to live peacefully.

      • CB says:

        Hi Leon — I agree with with you and it’s an important point. The reason people are especially upset about the shelters in the West 70s is because these men are not being good neighbors. They are not wearing masks, not social distancing, drinking in public, littering, and jeering at women — this is both illegal behavior and bad neighbor behavior.

        I wish that some of the people defending the shelters on here had more compassion and empathy for their neighbors who live right near the shelters. How do you think the doctors and nurses feel – the folks who risked their lives in a pandemic, and come home every night to see maskless and not social distancing men loitering in large groups? How do you think parents with small children feel when it’s not possible to cross 79th and Broadway without facing danger and fright on both medians? How do you think victims of sexual assault feel knowing that their tax dollars are going to put up sex offenders in a hotel?

        If you really are so empathetic and compassionate — how about some empathy and compassion for doctors, nurses, small children, parents trying to keep their kids safe, sexual assault victims, and the small business owners who are losing business because of all the people in this paragraph who are now avoiding the areas immediately around the shelters? Do you think you could give these innocent and hard-working folks some understanding, too?

      • Michael says:

        Were these hotels rezoned? If they were then the community should have been involved. The zoning code a ”hotel” is by definition for transients only, meaning that customers cannot book for more than 30 days. Were these hotels reclassified previously the building department classifies the Lucerne as “H1-HOTELS” for example or is the city just ignoring the zoning?

      • TruthSayer says:

        Correct. Many of the new residents are not law-abiding citizens, quite the contrary. That is the real issue and what the people who are rolling out the welcome mat refuse to admit.

      • UWSbacksliding says:

        Leon says it well. I live within a few blocks of Park West and have known about this shelter for months. Sure women sit in small groups in the park across the street, but they are respectful of the area. No one is yelling, openly doing drugs or exhibiting any of the behaviors I’ve seen in Broadway. We have some homeless men in the area that make me uncomfortable. I will not walk out alone at night anymore….not even to the bodega around the corner. My neighbors feel the same way.

        I’m guessing it is the difference between how women act in a group vs men. If all residents of shelters were like this one, we’d hear less complaints over on Broadway.

        • Leon says:

          I totally agree. This is exactly what I meant when a week ago I said that the Lucerne got the “worst of the worst.” But Bruce Bernstein is quoting that everywhere to make me sound evil.

          There are a lot of people out there who would have zero tolerance for any homeless people. That is not me. But I have zero tolerance for large groups of people who break the law. We have laws for a reason. Enforce them. And if a rich person who owns a home in the neighborhood commits the same crime such as buying drugs or drunken disorderly conduct, arrest them too.

          • World Peacenik says:

            I must have missed all of your comments about how rich people who own homes in the neighborhood should be arrested for buying drugs or drunken disorderly conduct.

            Lots of comments about recovering people.

    16. Christy Dickey says:

      I am in need of shelter I am homeless. I’m a single woman .

    17. Eric Fox says:

      I used to live here in the mid-90s when it was an SRO. I paid $600/week for a 60 sf room with a dorm fridge, a desk, and a hanging rod. There was a twin bed. I had a taxi driver as my right neighbor and a FIT student as my left neighbor. Across the hall lived a couple in a double room. He was a drug dealer and she seemed to be too young for anything. There was a payphone in the lobby. I lived on the 5th floor facing the park … one window.

    18. SUSAN A COREY says:

      “Medically frail and mentally ill women” are the clients served baby Susan’s Place…and the folks falling through the cracks. Our behemoth mental health facilities closed in the 1970’s as community services were promised and then gradually refunded. And medically frail persons are not the most desirable employees, are they? Shame on this “so called Christian nation.” We ought to act the part!

    19. Nature Girl says:

      I am so happy to hear that some of the hotels are taking these people off the streets. Maybe this will give them the opportunity to turn their lives around and get them the help they need. God bless everyone involved. 🙏❤️

    20. Tomonia Hankerson says:

      I think this is very good for women in need of support.would love more information.Thank YOU

    21. Peter says:

      Would it not be possible to build “decent”, staffed with tested appropriate proffesionals homeless shelters, rather than HOTELS ? The difference in cost must be great !
      Homlessness has been around for centuries and this “Hotels” is the best solution (most costly of course) ?!

    22. RJ says:

      I grew up on West 79th street in the 1970’s. It was, of course, a different neighborhood. I had friends who weren’t allowed to go to Amsterdam Avenue because it was considered “dangerous.” The building I grew up in was filled with people who were artists, altruistic professionals (teachers, social workers, journalists) and it was a very friendly place. As a teenager, getting into the elevator meant having to talk to an older person who’d always known you and would ask about school or your activity for the day — annoying but still a community. There were few restaurants (Marvin Gardens, Teachers, a number of Szechuan places) but it was a neighborhood. We didn’t have suburban rituals like Halloween Trick or Treating. But there were pot luck block parties — where you actually spoke to your neighbors. There were tenants’ associations that worked to make sure renters were treated with fairness and respect by landlords. Eventually it all changed – as neighborhoods all over the world do. But sadly so did the community. In the mid to late 1980’s the UWS became frat boy central. Suddenly recent college graduates whose parents could afford to pay their rent were moving in. (Murray Hill – Kips Bay today?) They were loud and obnoxious. They got drunk and screamed throughout the night in their stupor, got into pathetic fights. They urinated in the streets. (Sound familiar?) But they were white and rich and nobody complained. It meant the property values were going up. My parents have lived in the same apartment for over 40 years. When my siblings and I visit, there is no longer a friendly greeting. Instead, we are questioned as to why we are there. (We are the only black family in the building – we are all highly educated professionals.) It is assumed that I am someone’s nanny or cleaning woman. One of my brothers recently picked up my parents’ dry cleaning and was assumed to be the delivery guy. This doesn’t come from building personnel but our “neighbors” who otherwise do not speak to us. The UWS is a neighborhood filled with very entitled people who’ve moved there because they care about status and have no interest in thinking or caring about what is happening to humanity. Suburbanites, people from other cities/states would rather have NYC look like Disney Land than care about neighbors or helping others. It is with such profound sadness that I read some of the comments on this thread.

    23. Lynda L Lutz says:

      I wish they had this in Orange County CA. They do have a similar one called Operation Room Key initiated by our governor. The problem with this is they will not let you leave without their permission and 24 hours notice to go to a doctor’s appointment. It sounds like a prison or jail. I have never been in in either, but you give up control of your life. When the covid excitement is over, they just release you back into homelessness. My 45 year old physically disabled daughter,my service cat who is elderly,and I are homeless because of a realty company who illegally evicted us. We do not do drugs or drink and never have been arrested. The social workers look at us like we have 3 heads. I am also physically disabled. I just had surgery to remove a blood clot and insert a stent into my leg to keep the vein open. I have 2 more blood clots. All caused a large wound on my leg. Do you think Orange County will help us? No. We are on a list for an apartment, but I am 73 years old. I will be dead before we get an apartment. I hope the women there are getting more help than we are. All we want is an apartment where we can live our lives and I can elevate my leg so the wound will heal. Thank you for listening. It is hard to be homeless.

    24. lindagail says:

      I question whether City government is locating any such facilities in Midtown, the financial district or the neighborhoods in the 70’s & 80’s between 5th Avenue and Lexington.

      • UWSbacksliding says:

        No they are not because they have strong community boards. City Hall knows CB7 will not push back.

    25. Anthony says:

      Good. Housing homeless women escaping abuse is something I , and I imagine most, UWS residents, welcome.

      What we don’t want are hundreds of male drug addicts that urinate in public, stumble around in a stupor while they aggressively panhandle.

      yes, there haven’t been serious cries from this, but many people;e have been harassed. My mother, who is in her late 60s, has three times been aggressively panhandled which is basically a soft, or smart, mugging: one or two homeless individuals will approach her, get in her face, and ask for $1. if she ignores them or tries to walk away, they keep at it. the police don’t care. they just consider it panhandling, but the reality is quite different.

      This is how helping the homeless is sold to progressives: they always highlight women, or families, or men down on their luck or going through a bad stretch while trying to do the right thing. Anyone can get behind this. But then you get 300 all male, aggressive, druggies that happen to also be homeless.

    26. Deandra Hayes says:

      Hi am currently homeless..living in a friend’s car…looking for immediate shelter..

      • World Peacenik says:

        I don’t expect that you will receive much attention in this discussion.

        Most of the discussion involve complaints about so much trash outside the Park West hotel, and across the street where residents smoke and hang out.
        “In particular, hundreds of cigarette butts, dozens of takeout containers, all just strewn around the sidewalks by the park.”

        Priorities

    27. Jack dorsey says:

      If they are already in shelters..why are they in hotels? Pure madness….

    28. Jascena Mccrae says:

      The shelter staff is very disrespectful, they will lock you out for no reason. I had to sleep in a park all night, they would eat my food or unplug my fridge to spoil what I paid for. The actual owner is nice, but he doesn’t interfere with the treatment of the staff, which makes him look bad.

    29. Jascena Mccrae says:

      I forgot they even shared my information with somebody, when I gave my broken cellphone to the staff to dispose of properly, she passed it off and somebody paid for the service making my new phone ineligible for my iphone sign in. They stole my money, then hid it back in my room. This was very treacherous for me, nobody should have to be homeless and be subjected to such cruelty.

    30. emily says:

      There is so much trash outside the Park West hotel, and across the street where residents smoke and hang out. In particular, hundreds of cigarette butts, dozens of takeout containers, all just strewn around the sidewalks by the park.

    31. FedUpUWSer says:

      I’ve said all along that the situation would have been a lot different if they had housed homeless women and children in the Lucerne, Belleclaire, and Belnord, and this just proves the point. This demographic would have actually fit into this family-oriented neighborhood and been able to utilize surrounding resources like playgrounds. Not to mention the fact that women have a greater capacity to behave themselves and a much lower propensity towards violence (sorry, men, you know it’s true).