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City Promises To Remove a Controversial Shelter on the Upper West Side in Nine Months

By Serena Solomon | March 3, 2010 1:44pm | Updated on March 3, 2010 12:39pm
The proposed homeless shelter at 237 W. 107th St.
The proposed homeless shelter at 237 W. 107th St.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

By Serena Solomon

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — Residents who defeated a plan for a permanent homeless shelter on 107th Street have won another victory — the city has also promised to remove a smaller temporary facility already operating on the neighborhood block.

But the angry residents will have to wait nine months before the Department of Homelessness removes an 80-bed transitional shelter for women, at 237 107th Street, that was set up roughly two weeks ago unbeknownst to Community Board 7.

"Given the current need [due to a rise in homelessness] we will continue to use annex beds at this facility for no more than 80 single women and for no longer than nine months,"  DHS Commissioner Robert V. Hess said in a letter to Mark-Viverito.

The temporary facility was supposed to be a prelude to a permanent 135 bed shelter the same location, but that proposal was withdrawn after allegations that the landlord had threatened his prior tenants with a baseball bat. 

When the DHS informed the community board on Feb. 8 it was setting up a shelter, residents cried foul over the landlord, Mark Hersh. He'd been accused of threatening tenants at another building with a baseball bat, reported the Village Voice.

Due to the allegations against the landlord, service provider HELP USA informed DNAinfo on Monday it would not be involved in any long-term contracts at the site, but would continue to supply limited services to the annex.

There were also questions from residents as to why the building could not be turned back into SRO housing, which offers discounted units to low-income earners, to help solve the homeless problem without bringing a transient population to the neighborhood.