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Homeless Shelter Planned for Former AIDS Rehab Facility on E. 17th Street

By Shaye Weaver | June 29, 2017 12:07pm
 The new facility will open this fall for both men and women who live on the street, officials say.
The new facility will open this fall for both men and women who live on the street, officials say.
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GRAMERCY — A 28-unit transitional space for the homeless is set to open this fall at the former Robert Mapplethorpe Residential Treatment building on East 17th Street, city and health officials said.

Mount Sinai Beth Israel had operated the treatment center, at 327 E. 17th St. between First and Second avenues, which offered 24-hour care and residential services to patients with HIV/AIDS, but shut it down in 2015 due to financial reasons.

Housing and homeless services provider BRC worked with the hospital and the Department of Homeless Services to lease the building and offer its programming in the space by the fall, city officials said.

The new space will work to transition clients off the street and into homes by offering beds for emergencies, showers, meals and clothing, as well as a number of services including on-site case management.

The facility will target men and women living on the streets who are usually more resistant to receiving help, the Department of Homeless Services said. It will only take referrals from its street outreach team and will screen those who use the facility overnight, officials said.

Mount Sinai is planning to lease the space to BRC for three years with the option to terminate, according to DHS. The site only needs to be furnished and have its elevator fixed before the facility can open.

"Starting this fall, we will be utilizing this location as a small safe haven to help transition our homeless neighbors off the streets — such low-barrier programs with robust on-site services are often the first step towards bringing these individuals indoors more permanently," said DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn. "Helping street homeless New Yorkers transition indoors requires persistent and compassionate outreach coupled with facilities geared towards clients who are often resistant to accepting services."

Last year, outreach teams helped 748 homeless New Yorkers off the streets citywide, according to DHS.

Rick Eggers, the chairman of Community Board 6, said he is trying to schedule meetings about the facility this summer in order to get input from neighbors and local organizations. 

"There's a lot going on down here," he said. "We've been given notice, but we don't have a formal part in its approval. It's going to be something that's going to keep everybody busy over the summer."

The plan is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's promise to to open 90 new homeless shelters and cut the city's shelter population by 2,500 over the next five years.

"Mount Sinai Health System applauds Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio for creating this innovative program to assist homeless New Yorkers in getting back on their feet," the hospital said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the Governor and Mayor's teams and the BRC to help bring this important program to reality."