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"It is just pitting one marginalized community against another": Chinatown residents continue fighting plan to build 6th shelter in community

Chinatown residents fear new homeless shelter could trigger rise in anti-Asian hate crimes 01:59

NEW YORK -- There was another heated community board meeting in Chinatown on Thursday over the city's plans to open a homeless shelter there.

As CBS2's  Ali Bauman reports, many residents fear the shelter could trigger a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

Residents of Chinatown and Little Italy rallied in the neighborhood Thursday before carrying their message to a virtual community board meeting.

The issue at hand -- a homeless shelter the city's Department of Homeless Services (DHS) plans to open on Grand Street by Bowery.

"This plan by DHS seeks to shoulder a community that has shouldered too much. It is just pitting one marginalized community against another, and when that happens, no one wins," said Susan Lee, with the Alliance for Community Preservation and Betterment.

Residents say their opposition is not an issue of apathy; there are already six homeless shelters in Chinatown, and this is one of four additional shelters being proposed.

In February, furor erupted inside a public hearing over a different proposed shelter in Chinatown.

"We change our life every day because we are scared and this, putting another shelter in our neighborhood when we have six, is an affront to our community," New York State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan said.

Over the last two years, Chinatown has seen a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. In several cases, including the death of Christina Lee, the suspects are experiencing homelessness and believed to be mentally ill.

A child named David Choo even spoke at the meeting, saying, "If we continue building more shelters ... Chinatown streets will be even more unsafe."

Michael Chen says he was randomly slashed in the back of the neck last week in the neighborhood.

"It's already crazy enough in the city," he said.

But homeless advocates argue this shelter will provide housing and mental health services to people who are already sleeping on the streets in the neighborhood.

"It not only helps protect the homeless people who are themselves at risk, as we saw with the tragic shooting of several homeless people very recently, it also makes the whole community safer because it offers services to people who might need that," said Corinne Low, executive director of the Open Hearts Initiative.

Residents plan to pen a letter from the community board, urging City Hall not to move forward with its plans.


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