Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

How NIMBY Chelsea Residents and Christine Quinn Treat Poor People

Neighbors in Chelsea are up in arms against a building that will serve homeless people—but they're just against large shelters, you see, because they think those are bad for people. They're not technically against the 12-story services and shelter tenant that wants to move into a building at 127 W. 25th Street. Except that they totally are.

The building, actually, will consolidate several services of the Bowery Residents' Committee, and, like other large non-profits in New York, had to consider more than a hundred locations before it found a good fit and a willing landlord.

And, as she will always do where nonprofits are involved, useless and unhelpful City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has been actively campaigning against the services building. (She recently did a similar kind of meddlesome dithering at a crucial time in another large New York City nonprofit's move.)

She's referring to it as a "328-bed homeless shelter"—and she's doing that because, back when the Giuliani administration was paying out millions in fines for a cruddy shelter system, the City Council agreed to limit the number of beds in new shelters to 200.

But in truth, this new building has a 32-bed detox program, a 200-bed mens' shelter, a 96-bed reception center, day treatment programs and a substance abuse program. And, you know, lunches. What with the homeless people liking to eat and all.

In a fun twist, one community group against the homeless shelter, the Chelsea Flatiron Coalition, which is a group that sprung up to oppose this service organization specifically, made up of who knows who, is represented by… Bracewell Giuliani in their suit against the organization. And they're not alone: "With the city’s homeless population near all-time highs, the city and nonprofit groups working with homeless people have been meeting resistance in neighborhood after neighborhood as they try to open new shelters."

The opponents—who are not all definitely terrible people, let's be honest—had been resting all their hopes on the Department of Homeless Services review, which then approved the shelter. Now they likely want a Land Use review. They're protesting outside and calling it a "mega-shelter," which is an outright lie, but allows them to say "We are not against shelters." Except when they're saying things like this:

“Even with security, there is no control after they leave,” said another mother. “These people will be roaming around looking for another bottle or mugging someone for drug money.”

They'd all better get back to their condos and fix Jaden, Gemma and Brando a fortifying lunch so the kiddos can face the scary homeless on the mean streets of Manhattan!

10 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#1,720)

I'm not opposed to helping the homeless. I'm opposed to seeing them.

InfoMofo (#505)

A 32 bed detox program and a 200 bed shelter though, does seem like a kind of loop-holey way of getting around the 200 bed limitation…

As a current renter though, I'm all for the opening of this shelter, as it will likely lower property values in an area I'm interested in purchasing in!

graffin (#9,588)

They need to just name their group the Protect My Property Value Coalition.

They love the homeless so much they want them to stay that way, you see?

Tulletilsynet (#333)

The Chelsea Flatiron Coalition is the dba name for the Chelsea Business and Property Owners Association LLC, and the way they propose paying their lawyers is through a solicited donation of $750 per bedroom for co-ops or $1 per square foot for businesses.

A cynic might suspect that in plain English, this means that a Bracewell Giuliani partner has organized an LLC with the sole purpose of being a client, and is scaring everybody for blocks and blocks around into joining and paying up.

Odd that the lawyer listed as the "Coalition's" contact, Craig Warkol, is neither a specialist in NYC real estate law nor a Chelsea resident. He's a guy who defends white-collar criminals and he lives in Scarsdale.

Bryan Keller (#3,804)

The thought of having to listen to Mayor Quinn's unbelievably grating voice after 12 years of hearing Bloomberg ("the snow is cawsting a million dollas an inch") makes me wanna hurl.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

You can't put a homeless shelter across the street from the City Quilter! Who's going to protect the middle aged suburban ladies teleported in from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin who shop there?

Oil Can Boyd (#12,987)

I'm not an expert on this, but isn't Chelsea a very expensive place to open a 200 bed shelter?

F-Jam (#13,029)

OK, I live on that block and I live in a small studio and pay the average NYC rate to rent it. I have attended 2 of the protests and contrary to Sicha's article, the neighbors, for the most part, are in favor of a legal-sized shelter–as am I. Those in my camp oppose Muzzy Rosenblatt's (BRC Chief) contortion of the law to put a feather in his career cap by illegally overtaking an entire building to house an illegal amount of homeless people. This is the same guy responsible for shutting down CBGBs. He is no dummy, this is a business to him and from what I can tell, he cares little about the homeless and all about self-promotion. Bottom line, he is breaking the law and we plan to stop him. If you want to know about the evils of mega-shelters call upon those at Coalition for the Homeless – this non-profit also opposes this irresponsible and illegal mega-shelter.

Chelsea252 (#13,089)

Choire, I love you, and I'm a big fan, but you are wrong. This IS a mega-shelter (more like a warehouse for mentally ill people), and it's blatantly illegal. I sat down & heard the whole story, and it's a sickening tale of cronyism, corruption, and lies. Rosenblatt thinks he can do whatever he wants in the name of the homeless, that he's above the law. This is all about him and his ego. They even falsified the architectural plans. If he had done the right thing by keeping it under 200 beds and following due process, there would not be a problem.
I've lived in Chelsea for 20 years, volunteered for the homeless,for MoveOn, for gun control, etc., voted Democratic or Liberal, but this is not only wrong, it's a clear violation of zoning laws and the neighborhood doesn't have the resources to support such a mammoth facility. And, yes, I have a child, and I'm not thrilled about such a huge shelter so close. But, mostly, I'm infuriated and disgusted by the lies and blatant flouting of law and due process, the revolving door b/t the Board of Standards & Appeals and Rosenblatt's office and the fact that my tax dollars are paying for it. To Muzzy, this is just business as usual…any lies or even illegal plans to push it through.
When you learn how corrupt the city gears are, it's pretty disheartening. But Chelsea has woken up. We know we have right on our side and will fight this tooth and nail. We won't give up.

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