Streetview of the planned shelter site at 47 Madison Street © 2021 Google
In the second such move in less than a week, New York City has canceled plans for one of a handful of new homeless shelters in Chinatown, the New York Times reports. The planned “safe haven” shelter was to be located in the former Best Western Hotel at the corner of Grand Street and Bowery. The move follows months of vocal opposition to three planned shelters by community members who cite an increase in crimes targeting Asians and a similar announcement last Friday regarding the rollback of plans for a shelter nearby at 47 Madison Street.
A resolution was passed last week by a Chinatown community board asking the city not to open the Grand Street shelter, which is near where 35-year-old Christina Yuna Lee was murdered in February. A man who had stayed at a shelter on Bowery was indicted for the crime.
Community groups, led by the Alliance for Community Preservation and Betterment, say the neighborhood already has too many shelters, citing a recent neighborhood crime wave associated with those experiencing homelessness. Community members also objected to plans by shelter operator Housing Works to allow illegal drugs in the new shelter.
In addition to community objection, there was a conflict between the unions involved; shelter operator Housing Works said they were required to staff the facility with workers from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council claims it already held a contract with the former hotel building’s owner.
Friday’s news that long-standing plans to open a homeless shelter at 47 Madison Street in Chinatown had been canceled came on the heels of Mayor Eric Adams’ announcement last week that the city would be adding an additional $171 million for homeless services in his proposed 2023 executive budget,
The three new Chinatown shelters were to be “safe havens,”–exactly the kind of alternative to traditional homeless shelters the mayor is hoping to advance. Both the city and advocates of the shelters say that getting people off the streets and drawing them into outreach services actually makes neighborhoods safer in addition to giving real, sustainable aid to those who need it.
Community Board 3, which represents 47 Madison Street, has previously said that more safe havens are needed in the neighborhood. The city says this request was part of the reason for the planned facility’s location under a law stating that social services must be distributed equitably.
The Grand Street shelter and another on East Broadway have been the subject of even more opposition than the Madison Street shelter, which was scheduled to open in 2024. The Grand Street facility is scheduled to open this spring and the East Broadway shelter plans to open next year.
Nearly a dozen rallies have been held in protest of the shelters in recent months. In a statement to the Times, the Department of Homeless Services said in a statement similar to one released regarding the Madison Street facility. “Our goal is always to work with communities to understand their needs and equitably distribute shelters across all five boroughs to serve our most vulnerable New Yorkers.”
The additional $171 million for homeless services that Adams announced on Sunday as part of his budget for the fiscal year 2023 would fund 1,400 safe haven and stabilization beds. The investment, the largest of its kind to be made by the city, will be allocated every year beginning next fiscal year. The city expects to bring a total of 4,000 specialized beds for homeless New Yorkers online.
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Neighborhoods : chinatown