On Tuesday, June 6th, New York City parents and locals voiced vehement opposition to the forthcoming $500 million shelter designed to aid vulnerable and at-risk women. The facility, which is being built on West 59th Street in the Upper West Side, has raised concerns due to its location next to the widely frequented Gertrude Ederle Playground.
Protesters said they were worried about their children’s close contact with homeless individuals and potential exposure to second-hand smoke from the proposed smoking area of the shelter.
Several parents highlighted the apparent inconsistency in the city’s regulations, citing the paradox of the city’s ban on selling wine near playgrounds while approving the construction of a shelter for drug-addicted individuals, complete with a smoking area.
The non-profit organization Project Renewal, which won a 40-year contract, will manage the shelter. The organization plans to provide housing, meals, mental health, and drug addiction treatments for 200 women by 2025, approximately costing $60,000 per person each year.
Some parents voiced their support for the project, arguing that the Upper West Side must fulfill its obligation towards its vulnerable community members, promoting shared responsibility.
A representative for Project Renewal clarified that the smoking area would be positioned on the third floor of the building, and the ground level would be reserved for residents finishing their cigarettes before entering the facility.
The shelter proposal has been a source of controversy from the onset. Former Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer has consistently expressed disapproval, advocating for the development of permanent housing instead of a shelter in her correspondence to city officials.
Despite opposition, the Department of Homeless Services continues to support the initiative, reiterating its commitment to providing essential social safety net resources to every community.