City Reveals Location of New UWS Homeless Shelter, Which Will Serve 200 Women

537 West 59th Street.

The Department of Homeless Services has announced plans for a new homeless shelter at 537 West 59th Street, the current home of the Manhattan News Network. The new shelter, between 10th and 11th Avenue across from John Jay College, is expected to serve 200 women who are experiencing homelessness and mental health challenges, according to DHS. It is scheduled to open in 2023.

The site will be owned and run by Project Renewal, a nonprofit that operates more than a dozen shelters and programs throughout the city. Project Renewal is the organization in charge of the shelter at The Lucerne Hotel on 79th Street.

The new shelter will have on-site services, including counseling, housing placement assistance, medical and mental health services, and workshops for helping people find employment and enhance their life skills. There will be all sorts of off-site services too, including education, health and legal assistance. And DHS plans to work with local officials to help people get jobs in the area. The shelter is expected to give priority to homeless people from Manhattan and the local Community Board 7, which stretches from 59th to 110th on the west side. The site will have 24/7 security and 70 security cameras, DHS said. (Project Renewal directed all questions to DHS.)

DHS had announced plans last year to bring a new shelter to the neighborhood. The announcement came as the department faced pressure from Upper West Siders about quality of life concerns around The Lucerne — DHS had said in September that it would move The Lucerne residents but open a new facility in the neighborhood at an unnamed location. Lawsuits have since delayed the move from The Lucerne.

Those hotels — which are meant to protect homeless people from Covid-19 by giving them separate rooms — will be phased out, DHS reiterated. The timeline for that remains unclear.

“In this neighborhood (Manhattan Community District 7), we will be phasing out all commercial hotel locations (currently providing shelter to 655 New Yorkers experiencing homelessness who would otherwise be turned out onto the streets) by the end of our transformation plan,” a DHS spokesperson wrote.

The Manhattan News Network building had been on the market, with a listing asking for $22.5 million last year.

The new shelter is part of a plan by the city to end the use of apartment buildings and hotels as homeless shelters. Those shelters often don’t have adequate services for homeless people and have sometimes been placed in neighborhoods with limited notice or an “emergency basis” that can leave neighbors feeling blindsided. They’ve also been criticized for being much too expensive. These “cluster sites” started before Mayor de Blasio took office, and he’s vowed to end them by 2021, but there’s been no quick fix given the rising homeless population. Shelters in apartment buildings on West 95th Street drew community backlash under Mayor Bloomberg.

DHS says it notified local community leaders about the shelter on December 30.

Update: Councilmember Helen Rosenthal’s spokesperson told us she did not have any information beyond what we have reported, and did not express an opinion on the site. Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal also said she had received the basic details (we initially reported incorrectly that she said she hadn’t heard of the plans).

Community Board 7 was notified, and the prior chair of the board sent follow-up questions to DHS that the board is awaiting answers on, according to new chair Steven Brown. It wasn’t discussed at Tuesday’s full board meeting, but may be a topic in the future. “Moving forward, I am going to meet with the appropriate committees and hope to speak with DHS directly so that we are fully informed as we move forward,” Brown told West Side Rag.

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NEWS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Katherine says:

      I don’t want to hear another word from anybody that the UWS isn’t doing its “fair share” housing the homeless. We’re doing far more. Why doesn’t the UES have any shelters and we get flooded with them?

    2. Astrid says:

      RIP property values in that neighborhood.

      Is there really no other place for a homeless shelter than one of the most expensive plots of land in the world? Why Manhattan? They will never integrate and get on their feet.

    3. UWSer says:

      If there is a contract between DHS and Project Renewal, then it likely states (or can be inferred) the cost per resident. I am curious how that $ compares to Lucerne or other options.

      Also, the shelter site shares lot lines (back/side yard) with the Gertrude Erdele Rec Center (which has youth programming) and a playground, and is within 1-2 blocks of several schools. I am wondering about concerns (security or otherwise) and mitigation given the “mental health challenges” noted.

      I hope WSR can investigate and keep us posted.

      • Fungus Head says:

        I feel like for the most part, given they have on-site services including counseling, mental health services, and other programs to enhance life skillsРthe mitigation is built into the proposal.

        Particularly with these on-site services if any of the women experiencing mental health challenges happens to be experiencing the sort of symptoms that may pose risk to other people recieving services, staff, or the community they will likely know to have them evaluated at a hospital immediately.

        When I worked with a similar style shelter we had effective procedure in place to protect those we housed and the community in the event someone did exhibit violence or threatening behavior.

    4. Flowery says:

      Good to know, at last! Already overwhelmed by homelessness on the UWS, we will not renew our lease
      In a building near the latest shelter. Please note we volunteer at a small home as shelter. We care about homeless people and homelessness. These huge ones do not work well for anyone.

    5. linemath175 says:

      Thanks for your reporting, WSR. I really appreciate being apprised of this development.

    6. What better location than the Home of the Liberals? The UES, Tribeca etc. would stop this homeless sheltering before it started. BUT housing on the West Side will once again be affordable for all.This would never have happened without our wonderful Mayor.

    7. Crankypants says:

      Great reporting indeed WSR, thanks. Too bad, though, another West Side neighborhood is set to be ruined.

    8. Dory says:

      The Upper East Side has no homeless shelters!

    9. Robert Crenshaw says:

      House these folks, temp shelters are not the answer! Drove thru various parts of the So.Bx last week & was amazed by all the new housing developments recently & almost completed! The Bronx and Brooklyn are having housing booms! Insist these developers provide apts for the homeless an low income New Yokers. In exchange for reduced taxes etc.

    10. Leona says:

      They need too build more shelters for single women their isn’t enough shelters for single women especially shelters for elderly women in NYC

    11. js says:

      There is of course profound need for housing, but it should be noted that there are many homeless families being housed in midtown hotels, near creepy Times Square and Penn Station.
      Families with babies, toddlers, school age children – far from food stores, playgrounds/parks, schools, hospitals. Even uptown buses are very long walks.

      This location – near a school, park and hospital – should be for homeless families.
      (And Lucerne should have been used for families)

    12. charles becker says:

      If I read the article correctly the new shelter will have 200 homeless woman and 600 homeless people in commercial hotels will be phased out of commercial hotels. I will believe it when I see it.
      Will 200 homeless woman replace the other 600 homeless people?

    13. Why they don’t make housing for the Homeless, we don’t need shelters, or car parking places, …” They need permanent housing ,”