NEW YORK - Some parents of students at P.S. 87 on the Upper West Side are expressing concerns. They are worried because the city is using three hotels on the Upper West Side as temporary shelters for homeless men. They have been making calls, writing e-mails, trying to grab the attention of anyone who will listen.
What You Need To Know
- There are three hotels on the Upper West Side being used as temporary shelters during pandemic.
- The city moved men out of congregate shelters to prevent coronavirus hotspots
- There are no plans for a permanent men's shelter on Upper West Side.
The NY1 inbox got several messages from parents worried about crime, drug-use, public urination and the safety of their children. However, several residents told us the concerns are overblown.
“Homeless people, I don’t really see it. Unless they’re talking about by Central Park and I barely see that over here in this area,” said Devon Clyde.
When the pandemic erupted, the city feared congregate shelters could be hotspots for COVID-19. They began moving nearly 13,000 people from these communal settings to vacant hotels. The move was to allow better social distancing. That is when some parents in the community began to complain to the local city councilwoman, Helen Rosenthal.
“People are scared. This is a change,” said Councilwoman Rosenthal.
Rosenthal says fewer than 600 homeless people are riding out the pandemic in the neighborhood hotels. They will likely go back to being guest hotels when the pandemic ends. The councilwoman says that rumors circulating in the neighborhood about new permanent shelters will be located there are false.
“I got a text from somebody the other day who said—I heard there was a murder at the Lucerne, 1 down and counting. Very troubling if true. Not at all true. No basis in reality,” said Rosenthal.
NY1 reached out to the parents that sent us those e-mails, but they did not want to be interviewed for this story.
The complaints about the homeless are at odds with the Upper West Side's reputation as a tolerant, progressive community.
Some parents in the community think there is an important lesson here for their neighbors.
“My husband and I have spent a lot of time talking to our son about racial, social and economic justice. We think it’s a very positive thing, he’s able to see a positive example of a city taking care of all of its citizens,” said neighborhood resident Melissa Sanchez.
“I think they should realize that you can’t just push those people away and wish that they would go someplace else,” said neighborhood resident Chris Diffee.
Councilwoman Rosenthal says that once it is safe to do so, the men living in these hotels will be moved to a shelter on the Lower East Side.