UPPER EAST SIDE — A workfare program that puts the homeless and ex-cons to work cleaning city streets has called it quits on tidying up East 86th Street and its surrounding area, as a result of Hurricane Sandy-related financial constraints, its head honcho revealed.
The Doe Fund has kept the East 86th Street commercial district tidy for 15 years, at an annual cost of $300,000. But in the wake of Sandy, the nonprofit moved its resources to help clean up Staten Island, Coney Island, and the Rockaways, as requested by City Hall, President George T. McDonald wrote in a November letter.
The Fund "redirected resources previously allotted to the East 86th Street commercial business area to these neighborhoods in need. The City’s funding for these additional relief services was critically important to allowing us to provide aid to these heavily impacted areas," McDonald wrote.
He added that even when Hurricane Sandy cleanup ends, they do not plan to return to East 86th Street, explaining that the Doe Fund can no longer afford to pay for cleanup without the help of local businesses or neighbors.
"As the need for our Hurricane Sandy relief efforts winds down, we have been faced with a regrettable fiscal truth that without the support of business and property owners in the East 86th Street area, The Doe Fund can no longer afford the $300,000 yearly expense incurred from our services," he wrote.
The head of the East 86th Street Association did not respond to a call for comment.
The Doe Fund has already seen the effects of its terminated services, McDonald said.
"At our main office, located on East 84th Street, we have already seen firsthand the littered streets, overflowing cans, and increasingly pungent scent along the well-traveled East 86th Street corridor, in our absence," he wrote.
"It is with great hope that we encourage the property and business owners in the surrounding area of East 86th Street to join together in support of our work, just as many Business Improvement Districts have done in the past in order to ensure our service in their neighborhoods is fully funded."
Brian Shields, Doe Fund spokesman, said that the 86th Street business corridor was one of the first area's maintained by the group and that "it's very near and dear to us as an organization."
"We've just had to face the regrettable fiscal truths that we can no longer afford that annual cost," he said.
Shields said there are no other Doe-maintained areas that are fully funded by the nonprofit, but that there have been in the past. The Doe-cleaned areas, he said, are funded via contracts with neighborhood business improvement districts and other programs.