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NY Post
New York Post
8 Apr 2023


NextImg:UWS residents furious as city quietly opens 2 new emergency shelters

The city has quietly opened two new emergency shelters for migrants on the Upper West Side — totaling nearly 250 rooms within a three-block stretch — The Post has learned. 

The new facilities come in addition to a 108-bed “safe haven” shelter on West 83rd Street operated by the nonprofit Breaking Ground.

That controversial shelter is set to house vagrants without conducting criminal background checks, across the street from an elementary school.

“Bottom line is, they are bombarding us,” said Donna Grace, who attends her Redeemer Presbyterian church’s community group on West 87th Street, near one of the emergency shelters.

“It’s going be the beginning of a gradual decline of our beautiful, historic, desirable neighborhood,” she said.

The emergency shelters, among 98 in the city have opened in response to the migrant crisis, including the New York Institute of Technology’s Riverside Terrace Residence Hall on West 88th Street, which has a capacity of 125 rooms, and the 119-room Belnord Hotel on West 87th Street, according to emails obtained by The Post.

It’s not the first time the Belnord has been used as emergency housing.

During the pandemic, the hotel, along with the nearby Lucerne and Belleclaire, was turned into a shelter for homeless men to purportedly prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in shelters — resulting in soaring complaints of public drug use, urination, and even sexual activity in the street, according to residents.

The two new shelters have come in addition to a 108-bed “safe haven” shelter that will house the homeless without criminal background checks.
J.C. Rice

That controversial shelter is set to house vagrants without conducting criminal background checks, across the street from an elementary school.

That controversial shelter is set to house vagrants without conducting criminal background checks, across the street from an elementary school.
J.C. Rice

“We did not have a positive experience during COVID with how things were communicated and or implemented and overseen,” said Upper West Sider Nicole Metzger, 47, who recounted walking by homeless men shooting up, passing out, and even receiving oral sex. “We have heightened fears that this is a repeat of the situation.”

And the Upper West Side has been completely saturated with shelters, neighbors complained.

“We all know that we have a crisis with homeless people and that they need housing, but every neighborhood has to step up and do its fair share, and the West Side is clearly doing much more than its fair share,” said community activist Maria Danzilo. 

The new emergency shelters come in addition to the 1,352 people already living in city Department of Homeless Services facilities in the neighborhood, compared to just 41 on the ritzy Upper East Side and just 438 in the Financial District, according to city data as of Feb. 28 

Maria Danzilo.

“We all know that we have a crisis with homeless people and that they need housing, but every neighborhood has to step up and do its fair share, and the West Side is clearly doing much more than its fair share,” said community activist Maria Danzilo. 
Instagram / Maria Danzilo

Community Board 7 District Manager Max Vandervliet urged the city Department of Social Services to give local leaders and the neighborhood more advanced notice for shelter openings.

“We do not intentionally leave constituents in the dark,” Vandervliet said. “I can state accurately that in some instances we have been notified about a shelter the day of, the day before, and on occasion after its opening.”

Public hearings are not required to open emergency shelters, according to DSS, which would not confirm the shelter locations or share costs.

Upper West Side residents complained that their neighborhood is oversaturated with shelters and homeless residents compared to others in the city.

Upper West Side residents complained that their neighborhood is oversaturated with shelters and homeless residents compared to others in the city.
J.C. Rice

“We need every community to come together to respond to this humanitarian crisis as we continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that we are meeting the unprecedented need for shelter services on the ground,” a DSS spokesperson said. 

It is unclear how much the city will fork over to cover the new Upper West Side emergency shelters. 

The Adams administration last month said it was costing $364 a day to provide shelter and food for one migrant household.

33,400 migrants out of the 53,000 that have come to New York City since last spring are staying in city-run hotels, according to the latest City Hall data. 

Overall, the migrant influx has cost the city $420.44 million and counting in emergency shelter spending.

The West Side Rag previously reported the shelter population data.