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City To Close Controversial Aladdin Hotel Shelter Amid DHS Overhaul: Mayor

By Maya Rajamani | March 19, 2017 1:52pm
 The Aladdin Hotel, a homeless shelter, has long caused problems on the block.
The Aladdin Hotel, a homeless shelter, has long caused problems on the block.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL’S KITCHEN — The city plans to shutter a controversial homeless shelter on West 45th Street as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to overhaul the Department of Homeless Services.

The Aladdin Hotel, a homeless shelter at 317 W. 45th St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues, will be “phased out over the course of the mayor’s five-year plan,” a DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn confirmed Thursday.

The site currently serves 156 adult families, all of whom will be transition to permanent housing or other shelter facilities by the end of 2021, he added.

The mayor first announced the planned closure at a town hall at the NYC Lab School on West 17th Street Wednesday evening, while reiterating his intent to close “cluster sites” around the city and move away from housing homeless individuals and families in commercial hotels.

“The goal is to get out of hotels, the goal is to get out of cluster apartments, which have not been a decent standard of living for people,” de Blasio told attendees. “One facility in particular we are adamant about closing is the Aladdin shelter in Hell’s Kitchen.”

Though the shelter is neither a cluster site — which "do not have sufficient on-site services" — nor a commercial hotel, it is one of a “small number of other facilities” that will be phased out as part of the mayor’s plan, McGinn said.

The decision to close the shelter came “as a result of feedback from [DHS’] clients” during a 90-day review, he added.

For years, residents who live near the shelter have said it has brought violence, drug use and quality-of-life issues to the block — with news outlets branding it the “Crimes Sq. hell hotel” and “Homeless Hotel Hell.”

In 2015, a man was reportedly stabbed in front of the building.

“The reality is, there have been incidents of crime and violence [there]” Community Board 4 district manager Jesse Bodine said on Thursday.

“I think generally, the board is supportive of clients no longer being housed in the Aladdin, because the building itself just did not have the infrastructure, and we don’t think that the services were sufficient,” he added.

The site — which at one point was a Single Room Occupancy building — lacks the wiring for amenities like air conditioners and has not been able to provide adequate social services to its residents, board member Joe Restuccia maintained.

Restuccia, who attended the mayor’s town hall, said his “mouth dropped open” when he heard the shelter would close.

“We’ve been trying to get it closed for so many years,” he said. “This has been a very contentious back and forth.”

DHS doesn’t have any current plans to phase out other shelters within CB4, its spokesman noted on Thursday.

“As we implement the Mayor’s borough-based plan, we will be evaluating capacity and need in every community across the five boroughs,” McGinn wrote in an email. “Communities will be the first to know as we identify sites for opening or closure.”