CHELSEA — After months of opposition and ongoing legal challenges, the state has given the largest portion of a controversial new homeless shelter the go-ahead to open.
The Jack Ryan Center, a 200-bed shelter in the Bowery Residents' Committee's new 12-floor, 328-bed shelter and detox facility at 127 W. 25th St. will start taking clients today, according to BRC Executive Director Muzzy Rosenblatt.
The shelter recieved its operating certificate from the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance on Friday, Rosenblatt said. Roughly 25 people will stay in it tonight.
"We want to open it in a thoughtful, phased way," Rosenblatt said. "Even though it's a 200-bed shelter, we're not going to have 200 people in there today or even by the rest of the week."
The Jack Ryan Residence, named after one of the BRC's founders, will provide temporary shelter to homeless men living with mental illness.
For months, the BRC's new shelter has come under attack from homeless advocates who say it's too big, and community members who are concerned about having a large shelter in their neighborhood.
Last week, the City Council filed a legal memo opposing the shelter in a case against it. Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who represents the Chelsea area, has been leading the charge against the facility.
“History has shown that super-sized shelters such as the one that BRC has proposed do a disservice to both the homeless and the community at large," Quinn said in a statement Monday.
"I am disappointed that the shelter will begin operations before the court has a chance to rule on the legality of the proposal. Yet I remain confident that the court will issue a decision that resolved the issue in our favor.”
A 32-bed chemical dependency crisis center opened in the building in July. The BRC is still waiting on approval to open its 96-bed reception center and certain detox programs.