Upper East Side residents protest planned NYC-funded homeless shelter



New Yorkers are protesting plans for a homeless shelter again — this time on the Upper East Side.

The 88-bed “safe haven” shelter, slated for 419 E. 91st St., would be too close to schools and recreation sites, according to a petition on change.org that has more than 1,500 signatures.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of children frequent this city block, often times alone, in commute[sic] to school and sport activities,” the petition states.

Tina Ferriola, who runs NYC Elite Gymnastics next to the site, launched the signature drive because of “safety concerns across the board.”

“We care very much about helping people that are struggling,” Ferriola told The Post. “We care very much about the safety of the children, too.”

One woman who signed the petition described the block as the “worst possible” for a shelter.

“Please keep our innocent children safe first and foremost,” she wrote. “I implore this city to show some common sense, decency and respect for the children of the Upper East Side.”

Besides the gymnastics school, the athletic center for the all-girls Sacred Heart school is on the block as is a petting zoo called The Ant Farm.

419 East 91st St.
419 East 91st St.

The Goddard Riverside nonprofit would run the seven-story shelter in conjunction with the city. Scheduled to open next year, the facility would offer meals and services, recreation space and a rooftop smoking area to both men and women. The residents can bring pets, too.

Residents of the building could stay up to a year as they transition into permanent housing, said Roderick Jones, Goddard Riverside’s executive director.

Unlike traditional shelters, those in “safe havens” don’t have to leave during the day.

Goddard hopes working with the community will avoid the kind of uproar that happened after the city turned the Lucerne Hotel, at 201 W. 79th St., into a shelter for homeless men, Jones told The Post. Many Upper West Siders complained the men were harming the neighborhood’s quality of life.

“We’re operating with an open hand. We’re listening to the community and working with them to address concerns,” Jones said.

The Community Board backed the plan Jan. 20.

Area resident Jordan Stein told the board he understood some of his neighbors’ concerns, but thought the shelter would be an improvement over the city’s traditional shelters.

“This type of safe haven housing is really the future of homeless services,” he said.


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