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Thrift Shop's Junk is Turning UWS Block into Landfill, Neighbors Say

By Emily Frost | May 13, 2013 6:57am
 Neighbors say they're fed up with the towers of garbage Housing Works deposits on the sidewalk below their building. 
UWS Condo Owners Ask Housing Works to Clean Up
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A charity shop is making neighbors feel like they live in a "landfill" by spewing trash and debris onto an Upper West Side Street, according to residents of an adjoining condo.

The Housing Works on Broadway at 96th Street has created what "looked like junkville" with split garbage bags and overflowing bins, said Marcella Stapor, president of the board of the 300-unit Columbia, which is above the charity shop.

The dumped clothing brings hordes of scavengers to the neighborhood, she said.

“This is an organization that claims that their purpose is in aiding AIDS victims and the homeless — then why are they treating the people in this building like they live in a landfill?” Stapor asked.

A manager at Housing Works’ 96th Street location said the charity has a policy of taking whatever donations people give, even items that can't be resold.

These unusable items go out to the curb five times a week in the evening, manager Danielle Lopez said.

And then, “A good dozen come [to pick through the trash,]” she said.

“Things thrown out by Housing Works have been torn through by people seeking to either have those things or resell them,“ condo resident Maxine Spector said.

Michael Smart, the resident manager at The Columbia, said the scavengers are a regular feature of the sidewalk now.

Lopez acknowledged that there was a problem. Condo residents said other staff members have also agreed to work on the issue but so far nothing has changed.

Housing Works tried using locked bins and then bins with a bar across the top, but the scavengers have maneuvered around both obstacles, residents said. 

“Here's the problem, the employees put out the trash bins, then the employees will put out 50 to 60 bags of garbage, furniture, a couch, mirrors, boxes filled with unwanted garbage etc.,” Smart wrote in an email.

Smart said that so far his complaints, “fell on deaf ears.”

“I want [Housing Works] to recognize that this is so unkind to a neighborhood that’s been so kind to them,” Stapor said.