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Furious Chinatown Residents Flood Public Hearing On Plans For New Homeless Shelter

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Chinatown residents sounded off Friday during a heated community meeting over the city's plans to open a homeless shelter.

As CBS2's Ali Bauman reports, some people fear the shelter will lead to a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

Furor erupted inside the public hearing in Chinatown with hundreds of residents inside and hundreds more locked out.

"You are killing our people. You are killing our business. You are killing our livelihood," resident Mary Wang said.

The issue at hand -- a homeless shelter that the city plans to open next year on East Broadway by Forsythe Street. Residents say it will be the sixth shelter in their neighborhood.

"I feel not safe living in this community because I'm surrounded by shelters," one resident said.

"We have more shelters than anyone," another person said.

"We are dealing with the same thing in Harlem," Harlem resident Joshua Clennon said. "We've seen our city continuously, continuously place these facilities in communities of color while totally ignoring other communities."

The new shelter will house 120 single adults. The city says it decided to open it there after four people experiencing homelessness were murdered while sleeping on the street in Chinatown in 2019.

"It is critical to treat all homeless people in New York City with dignity and respect," said George Nashak, director of Care for the Homeless.

But over the last two years, the neighborhood has seen a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. Some CBS2 has reported on have involved suspects who are experiencing homelessness with a history mental illness.

"Many anti-Asian crimes are committed by homeless people who are mentally disturbed, and you put another shelter here?" one person said.

"In the past 38 years I've lived in Chinatown, it has never felt as unsafe as now. The homelessness is an issue," resident Raymond Tsang said.

The city argues a new shelter will make the streets safer.

"Making sure that New Yorkers who are experiencing homelessness on the street have a safe place to sleep inside and to be connected to programs and services," said Erin Drinkwater, with the New York City Department of Homeless Services.

The city says this shelter is basically a done deal and they plan to move forward with finalizing the contract, but residents say they will continue to fight.

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