Upper West Siders fear influx of homeless

January 05, 2011 02:54PM

Residents of the Upper West Side who say their neighborhood has become a dumping ground for homeless people gathered at Community Board 7 last night to protest a planned homeless facility on West 94th Street, DNAinfo reported. If a Department of Homeless Services plan goes forward, Hotel Alexander — at 304 West 96th Street between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue — will be rented out to Samaritan Village and turned into a 200-bed transitional housing facility for single men. The board passed a resolution at last night’s meeting, calling on the city to prohibit using the building for transitional housing programs. Neighbors are concerned that there are already too many facilities serving homeless people and drug addicts in their neighborhood.

“Everybody is in favor of affordable housing,” said West 94th Street resident Aaron Biller. “[But] we have compassion fatigue. We shouldn’t be the only place the city comes to.” Biller, president of local group Neighborhood in the Nineties, noted that the district is home to 21 percent of such facilities in Manhattan, though DHS disputed the idea that the city puts more homeless shelters on the Upper West Side than in other places. Biller and others blame lawmakers for pushing through a new law — effective in May — that bans any building designated as a single-room-occupancy hotel, or SRO, from being used as a hotel. Critics say lawmakers failed to consider the consequences, which has prompted existing SRO landlords to have no discretion in who they sell to. [DNAinfo]