The residents of the Ellington, a longstanding shelter for women and children on 111th Street off Riverside Drive, learned last Wednesday that the shelter is being phased out, and they will be moved beginning this week. The move-outs will start on Friday, June 4th, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Homeless Services.
Many residents are long-term, some with children enrolled in local schools. After members of the community expressed concern, Council Member Mark Levine put out a statement clarifying the timeline.
He said he had “talked directly to the DHS commissioner and secured assurances that there will be no transfers of families out of the shelter on Monday as (some residents had mistakenly) feared.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s been postponed indefinitely, Levine wrote.
“While this is good news, DHS has indeed given residents at 111th Street a thirty-day notice that they will need to be relocated as part of their multi-year plan to move long-term residents out of ‘substandard shelters’ into permanent housing or better shelters….
“Additionally, I received assurances from DHS that there are no plans to turn the site into a shelter for a population other than women and families.
“I am truly inspired by the compassion so many neighbors on 111th St have shown the families of the shelter. I am working to get answers as to why DHS considers this facility to be substandard, and whether there is any possibility to avert a shutdown.”
In 2002, when the hotel business was lagging after the 9/11 attacks, the Hotel Ellington was converted virtually overnight into a city shelter for homeless families, mostly mothers and children victimized by domestic abuse.
“The shelter has existed peaceably on our block for nearly 20 years with some children attending local schools,” wrote Greenwald, a neighbor who has been voluntarily cooking and collecting clothing, toys, and toiletries for the residents during the pandemic. WSR wrote about her and the Ellington here.
A DHS spokesperson wrote in an email that the city will phase out the Ellington “over the coming weeks” as part of its plan to end the use of former hotels and other stopgap sites to house the homeless. The agency says it will work with families to make the move smooth.
“As part of this course-of-business process, we will work directly and closely with each of the families currently residing at the site on next steps, helping families who are already connected to permanent housing move into that housing this month, and providing alternative shelter placements to the families who have not yet identified permanent housing that meets their needs or are not yet ready to move, including shelter placements closer to their children’s school where possible.”
Editor’s note: This article initially said incorrectly that the move-outs would begin Monday. They will start Friday, DHS says.