About a year ago, demolition permits were filed at 537 West 59th Street (between Amsterdam and West End avenues) to turn the former site of Manhattan Neighborhood Network into a women’s shelter run by Project Renewal, a non-profit organization which offers housing and resources to the homeless.
In May of this year, a group called “Friends of Ederle Playground” launched a petition to prevent this project from happening. As of writing, this petition has collected 2,223 signatures.
“While we support a compassionate solution for individuals experiencing homelessness in New York City, we strongly oppose the proposed location of this large-scale temporary shelter given that it would be located directly next to the Gertrude Ederle Playground and its closeness and proximity to several schools,” the petition states.
A protest was held at the site of the project in June, where residents voiced additional concerns that many of the residents are expected to suffer from mental illness and be chemically addicted, while also pointing out that the shelter’s smoking courtyard will be right next to the playground.
On Monday, Gerstman PLLC – a government relations law firm representing Friends of Ederle Playground – announced that Gale Brewer would be joining Friends of Ederle Playground for a press conference on September 12 at 11:30 a.m. to “call for the $500M women’s shelter currently being constructed at 537 West 59th Street to be utilized as desperately needed permanent affordable housing instead.” Local residents and small business owners are expected to attend the press conference as well. Members of the public are welcome to attend.
“Research and experience have overwhelmingly shown that investments in permanent affordable housing are extraordinarily effective in reducing homelessness—as well as being cost effective,” states a press release from Gerstman PLLC. “This is why Councilmember Gale Brewer is joining the Friends of the Ederle Playground, a local UWS community group who has collected over 2,000 signatures in a petition, in calling for the new building to be utilized as permanent affordable housing instead of a homeless shelter.”
The press release continues, “The fundamental cause of homelessness is the widening housing affordability gap. In New York City, that gap has widened significantly over the past decades, which has seen the loss of hundreds of thousands of units of affordable rental housing. At the same time that housing affordability has worsened, government at every level has cut back on already-inadequate housing assistance for low-income people and has reduced investments in building and preserving affordable housing.
“In this case, the people of the city of New York are paying for a NEW shelter when there is appeal all over the five boroughs for permanently affordable units. One question remains: why is this site not constructing what every New Yorker is asking for?”