Upper West Side Shelter Rejected By Neighbors

Front of the Freedom House in the Upper West Side

Neighborhood in the Nineties, a non-profit group representing residents of the Upper West Side between 90th and 97th have their claws out.

It seems that it’s not just new developments that they object to. Although places downtown may be catching up, the Upper West Side is still one of the most sought after neighborhoods in Manhattan. It’s no surprise that the opening of larger than life homeless shelter would be criticized.

The Freedom House, which takes up space between 316 and 330 West 95th St, is the object of protest. The organization is suing both the Bloomberg Administration and Aguila, the homeless housing board resp

onsible for the shelter. This is the second lawsuit in just months attempting to block the 5 year $47 million dollar contract between Aguila, led by Robert Hess, and the city. 

The building was originally home to single room renters who are now being shooed away to make room for as many as 400 homeless people. The city is going to pay the landlord of The Freedom House $3,700 a month per room -- even more than luxury apartments in the neighborhood cost. 

Opened on a temporary basis last August, those around the shelter complain of a urine smell and increased litter. Those who miss the building’s curfew have been seen loitering in school playgrounds and on the sidewalk. The group claims that there has been an increase in crime including larceny, rape, and assaults. Court papers also say that food and garbage have been thrown out the shelter’s windows.

Their opponents, however, tell another tale. According to the city’s stats, crime has actually gone down 11% in the 24th precinct since the summer of 2012. 

N90s also accuses the city of violating the “fair share” doctrine. Framework says the city shouldn’t concentrate too many social service facilities in one area of the city. Upper West Siders already have their fair share. 

City departments are still backing up their decisions. A statement made by a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services defended the spending, which comes to a daily rate of $122.33, saying it doesn’t only cover rent, but security, employment assistance and more.

A spokeswoman from the city’s Law Department also issued a statement, saying “We are confident that it meets all applicable laws, and we will evaluate the claims and respond to them at the appropriate time”. 

Uptown Manhattan residents have been fighting the same fight against homeless shelters for more than 2 years, and it seems that they will have to wait yet again to see how their battle plays out.