We called, and you responded! Over 100 people packed the Community Board 10 Health and Human Services meeting to help oppose the conversion of the James Varick Community Center into the eighth homeless shelter in a three block radius.
What Are Their Plans?
At the meeting, Tony Hannigan, CEO of CUCS, the proposed shelter operator gave us the following facts:
The shelter will serve 66 single men. This is a 120% INCREASE from their current shelter.
All residents will be chronically street homeless. These are the guys with shopping carts, not people who were recently evicted.
100% of the men have mental health problems. As he put it “You don’t live on the street for years without serious mental issues”
Fewer than 50% of the people at the shelter will come from our area. As their general counsel put it, “they could be from Hawaii”
What Did The Community Think?
Reaction to our arguments that Harlem is oversaturated with homeless shelters was very positive! Hazel Dukes and Bryan Benjamin (new Chair of CB 10) appeared to support us, and the reminder that CB 10 has passed a moratorium on new shelters drew a loud round of applause.
Assemblyman Keith Wright, City Councilwoman Inez Dickens and the 32nd Precinct are calling for the city to withhold providing any contracts to Levitan, according to a press release issued by the association.
At a private meeting at his office today, Keith Wright re-iterated his stance that this location is not appropriate for a homeless shelter.
Community Board approval does count in these issues and any increase in attendance will definitely make a difference. Additional details on the subject matter and date can be found on the Central Harlem Coalition website: LINK
Our latest press release is out — it talks about how David Levitan, the developer of this shelter, tricked Mother Zion AME Church when he bought it, and how he’s falsely claiming that this is a “relocation” of another shelter.
For too long, Central Harlem has had to absorb nearly all the homeless shelter population in Manhattan. Adding a 200-bed shelter to a mid-block location threatens to undo the considerable progress that we’ve made over the past few decades.
Councilwoman Inez Dickens has given us her full support! She recognizes that it would be a disgrace to the memory of Madame C.J. Walker to reduce the home of the first Black Millionairess to a shelter for drug addicts, and that West 136th St. is not a suitable location to transfer the Kelley Shelter.
New York City’s methods of siting homeless shelters are deeply flawed. How else to explain that most homeless shelters are concentrated in:
Brownsville/East New York
This process produces results that are unfair, and that site the shelters in low-income neighborhoods that, presumably, are less politically powerful than their wealthier neighborhoods. There are no city-run homeless shelters on the Upper East Side, for example.
Read the full report on how NYC sites homeless shelters here: https://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/20130509_NYC_ShelterSiteReport_v24_May.pdf
In 2010, Community Board 10 recognized that the district has been overwhelmed with the burden of providing homeless shelters to the rest of Manhattan. The excessive concentration of these shelters creates quality of life concerns that would not occur were these shelters more evenly distributed across Manhattan and the rest of NYC.