The city’s plans for a controversial “safe haven” homeless shelter on the Upper West Side recently drew heat from a pair of lefty pols — including a City Council member who originally gave the facility a hearty endorsement.
Many community members are outraged that the 108 residents of the shelter — slated to open this month — will not be required to undergo full criminal background checks even though it’s across the street from an elementary school.
In a letter to the city Department of Social Services, Councilwoman Gale Brewer and state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal warned that crowding 108 vagrants into a West 83rd Street single-room occupancy building may violate housing requirements.
The lawmakers requested DSS review the codes, given the plan to pack up to four adults in individual rooms.
According to the state’s Multiple Dwelling Code, no more than two adults are allowed to occupy a room for sleeping purposes.
The facility will be operated by the nonprofit Breaking Ground.
“There is no question that New York City needs more beds for individuals experiencing homelessness, but the planned four beds per room at the 83rd Street facility raises significant concerns,” the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers noted that limiting the number of homeless occupying rooms to one or two individuals could actually help in bringing more people off the street, a sentiment echoed by neighborhood activist Melinda Thaler.
“People are reluctant to come off the street if they have to enter larger, multiple-dwelling rooms that regular shelters offer,” said Thaler, 60. “A safe haven [usually] offers a private room or a roommate.”
Brewer originally cheered the shelter’s opening, telling attendees at a February Community Board 7 meeting that she had discussed it with neighboring business owners and school, and said residents at safe havens were “pretty low key.”
The councilwoman then began calling for the number of beds in the shelter to be at least halved, in addition to demanding greater community involvement.
“The goal is to get people off the street, not to maximize the number of people in the building,” she said in March after the meeting.
The lawmakers’ letter was first reported by the West Side Rag.