West Siders Protest 107th Street Homeless Shelter

by - February 25, 2010 at 12:21 am -

A shelter meant to house homeless women on 107th Street has received an unwelcome reception from the community, and the city is now considering pulling out of the site, according to the Columbia Spectator. In short, neighbors think the landlord’s a creep, and don’t think he should be involved in a local homeless shelter. Some are also worried about having transitional tenants as neighbors.

Help USA and the Department of Homeless Services were supposed to present plans for a new shelter at 237 West 107th Street to Community Board 7 on Tuesday night, but they decided not to attend the meeting. The entire project is now in jeopardy as the city examines its plans and the building’s landlord, Mark Hersh, CB7 Health and Human Services Committee co-chair Barbara Van Buren told the Spectator.

Hersh is notorious in the community. A 2006 Village Voice story detailed allegations against him, including threatening — and even hitting — tenants with a baseball bat.  The West Side Spirit also reports that there are open Building Department and Housing and Preservation Department violations for the building. The Spirit tried to contact Hersh to no avail; he has denied mistreating tenants in the past.

If the city turned the building, now a single-room-occupancy hostel, into a homeless shelter, it could be a boon for Hersh. He would receive almost $3,000 per tenant, versus the hundreds he likely gets now from occupants of the SRO, according to the Spectator.

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