Community Board 7 Tables Safe Haven Shelter Vote Following Public Input

  Last modified on March 21st, 2023
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The Safe Haven shelter will be located at 106-108 West 83rd Street (Google Maps).

In a nearly deadlocked decision, Community Board 7 voted 19-17 on Tuesday, March 8 to table its vote on whether or not to support the Safe Haven homeless shelter opening at 106-108 West 83rd Street in April.


The decision came after unanimous approval from CB7’s Health & Human Services Committee, which voted 5 in favor with none opposed to the Breaking Ground safe haven opening during its committee meeting on Feb. 28. Non-committee members also voted 5 in favor with none opposed.

“I would have preferred to vote tonight,” said Community Board 7 chair Beverly Donohue at the four-hour mark of the night’s meeting. “But, I think what I would like to recommend to this board is that we plan on voting in a month after a good deal of due diligence.”

Donohue also spent time addressing public outcry over a lack of transparency with the Breaking Ground shelter coming to the Upper West Side. “We received basically the 30-day notice of this facility that is being planned. Our vote here is purely advisory and will not necessarily have any impact on the decision that the city makes.” Donohue shared similar sentiments with the public. “Please understand that the lack of transparency is something that this board has experienced as well.”

The Community Board 7 meeting held over Zoom drew over 300 attendees. Early in the dialogue, CB7 member Roberta Semer suggested lowering the number of beds in the Breaking Ground facility from 108 to 50 to coincide with CB7’s capital budget priorities while ensuring “The best possible outcomes for the residents, and to provide good working conditions for the staff.” In response, Health & Human Services Co-Chair Sheldon Fine said that lowering the bed count “Could not be feasible in terms of having the services that are offered in this safe haven.”


Some outstanding questions from the previous CB7 meeting were also addressed. Background checks, while not required, will be performed by outreach teams prior to referring a homeless candidate to the Breaking Ground facility. The sex offender registry will also be checked by outreach teams who’ll send people who fit into the unacceptable categories to other facilities.

A community advisory board with the goal of working closely with the Breaking Ground team has been a key component discussed by CB7 over the last two meetings. It will consist of board members as well as local citizens. A dedicated phone number for the public to use should anything arise is also being planned.

When it came time for the public to speak, Susan Blum expressed concern as to what would happen if Breaking Ground isn’t able to fill all the beds in the facility. “Are we going to have another Lucerne situation where people are just dropped in?”

Worry of potential drug use at the Breaking Ground facility consistently came up during the meeting, with citizens noting that elementary school P.S. 9 is nearby at 100 West 84th Street.


Hannah August, a P.S. 9 parent who lives a block from the site, called out that she didn’t like hearing kids, hers included, being used as an excuse to stop the progress of Breaking Ground’s facility.

Katherine Mackel, a social worker and resident of the Upper West Side, shared her positive thoughts. “The fact that it’s Breaking Ground managing the safe haven is really reassuring given that they have the experience, the qualified staff, and are very reputable so I’m all in favor. Thank you.”

The next full Community Board 7 meeting will take place on April 4, where a new vote is expected to be held.


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