Project Renewal operates a men’s homeless shelter and an in-patient substance abuse treatment center on East 3rd Street in Manhattan, in addition to a second shelter around the corner.
It adds up to about 340 clients altogether, many of them with substance abuse problems.
The nonprofit says the last thing those men need is a cannabis dispensary across the street.
What You Need To Know
- Community Board 3 members have raised concerns about a planned cannabis dispensary on East 3rd Street in the East Village
- The Gotham dispensary location is across the street from a men’s homeless shelter and substance abuse treatment center
- The license holder is Strive New York, a nonprofit that provides job training and other services to the formerly incarcerated
- A community board task force rejected the location Wednesday, but the project is moving forward with a planned April opening
“Our clients come and go from this program on a daily basis,” said Gabriel Woodhouse, program director with Project Renewal. “It’s literally within sight line. I mean, it’s right across the street from the front door of our program.”
The planned dispensary, called Gotham, will occupy the bottom floor of a six-story condo building.
The license holder is Strive, a nonprofit that provides job training and other services to the formerly incarcerated. Its mission is, in many ways, aligned with Project Renewal’s — but the fear is that the dispensary could serve as a trigger to those in recovery.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Woodhouse said. “I mean, it’s a contradiction. What is the message you’re sending to those clients who are very vulnerable, who are very high risk.”
“It’s not that it’s near there. It is directly across the street,” said Susan Stetzer, district manager for Manhattan’s Community Board 3. “It’s very in your face.”
On Wednesday night, a task force formed by the community board rejected the location, instead passing a resolution that it would approve the license only at a different site.
The team managing the project says that’s not happening.
“We live in New York City. That’s my response. It’s really hard to be a NIMBY in New York City,” said Joanne Wilson, manager of the project. “Someone opens a medical facility down the street, and you were like ‘Oh my god, I didn’t think that was going to happen.’ Too bad.”
Project Renewal notes that cannabis use could get some of its clients sent to jail for violating conditions of their parole.
The dispensary will be subject to strict state regulations; signage will be limited and cannabis products won’t be visible from outside the store.
In any case, the community board’s decisions are only advisory, and Wilson says the plan is to open in April.
“There will not be smoke that’s being pumped out on the street. There won’t be music that’s being pumped out in the street,” Wilson said. “Yes, there will be people, and there will be people shopping. But it’s not anything but just a store.”