City may negotiate with controversial landlord to house homeless

February 25, 2010 05:49PM

237 West 107th Street (source: PropertyShark)

City housing advocates are riled up over the possibility that the city may facilitate the transformation of an Upper West Side single-room-occupancy hostel owned by a controversial landlord into a homeless hotel, according to the West Side Spirit. The Village Voice exposed the landlord, Mark Hersh, 20 years ago for allegedly threatening residents at another one of his buildings with a baseball bat, an incident that gained him the nickname the “West Side Batman.” And he allegedly squeezed out undocumented workers at yet another building in 2002. With Hersh’s bad reputation, housing advocates are upset that the city is considering placing homeless people in the SRO at 237 West 107th Street, a move that the Department of Homeless Services may make due to crowding concerns. “The city is lining the pockets of these landlords who harass tenants and go through whatever means to get permanent tenants out of the building in order to put in placements from [the Department of Homeless Services],” Marti Weithman, a project director for the Goddard Riverside SRO Law Project, said. Although the placement isn’t yet confirmed, sources told the West Side Spirit that the city is seriously consider the option.