Watch CBS News

Upper East Side Community Board Overwhelmingly Votes In Favor Of Opening Safe Haven For Homeless Individuals

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Homelessness has been an ongoing issue in New York City, perpetuated by the pandemic.

Coming soon to the Upper East Side will be a new place those in need can go to get back on their feet.

A vacant building on East 91st Street between First and York is the future home for some of the city's most vulnerable — the homeless.

It will consist of seven floors with 88 beds -- not a shelter, but a safe haven.

"Rather than a very transient population, it's 88 people that we will work throughout the entire year to move into permanent housing," said Roderick Jones, executive director of Goddard Riverside Community Center.

RELATED STORY -- City Comptroller Audit: Homeless Babies Living In Unacceptable Conditions In 13 Shelters

Goddard Riverside will operate the low-entry safe haven, offering special services.

"Psychiatric services, there's medical services, there are counseling services," Jones told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis.

Welcomed with open arms by the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services, co-founded by city councilmember Ben Kallos.

"There's a lot of folks in the neighborhood, we have probably a dozen or so, that everybody knows. They've got their spot, and this will help get all the homeless folks off the streets and into a room with a place to sleep and be safe, warm and fed each night," Kallos said.

An Upper East Side community board voted overwhelmingly in support of the project this week, although some raised concerns about notice of the project and safety, including the gymnastics school next door.

"We don't need homeless people looking in the windows or hanging out here when these young girls are coming out late at night from their practice. We have Sacred Heart across the street with young people. We have Asphalt Green, they walk down this block," said Marianne Ferriola, NYC Elite Gymnastics owner.

RELATED STORY -- NYC's Efforts To Move Men Out Of Lucerne Hotel Homeless Shelter Delayed Again

Two local middle school students raised their voices at the community board meeting.

"I fully support the opening of this safe haven," one student said.

We're told it will have 24/7 security inside and on the street for about 12 hours a day.

"Having a safe haven here, first of all, doesn't change the fact that there are homeless people in the neighborhood. What it adds and what it changes is the fact that those people now will be able to get the help they need," said Russell Squire, chair of Manhattan Community Board 8.

The actual safe haven isn't expected to open until January 2022.

RELATED STORY -- COVID-19 Pandemic Driving Homelessness In NYC To Record Levels, Advocates Say

Goddard Riverside wanted to announce the project now to have a year to address any concerns and work with the community to move forward.

The community board had 46 voting in support, one opposed and one abstention.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.