Chelsea Residents Upset Over Size Of Proposed Facility

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Controversy over a new homeless shelter has neighbors choosing sides in Chelsea.

As CBS 2’s Don Dahler reports, the fight isn’t about where the shelter is being built, but whether the people building it were honest about their plans.

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One block of 25th street in Chelsea is an eclectic mix of galleries, vintage clothing shops, coffee bars, and apartments.

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But at least 40 neighbors are complaining about one building in particular, which the Bowery Residents’ Committee is renovating to become a 12-story homeless shelter. When completed it will contain a 328-bed shelter and crisis center for people with chemical dependency.

Some of the neighbors said they have no problem with a homeless shelter going up, just not one this big.

“I’m very upset about this,” said area resident Maggie Gallagher-Lilly. “There’s no reason that we need to have a 328-bed shelter in our neighborhood when there’s 800 beds at Bellevue. So this is all within the same precinct. How are they ever going to manage all these homeless people?”

Gallagher-Lilly and other neighbors said they were misled over how many people the shelter would house.

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“Everyone in the neighborhood is for helping the homeless. That’s not the issue. The issue is the size of it. The city itself has regulations, charters against anything over 200 beds,” David Vanden Eynden said.

Muzzy Rosenblatt runs the Bowery Residents’ Committee’s 27 programs around the city.

“There’s been some misinformation spread by anonymous people,” Rosenblatt said. “The Board of Standards and Appeals, which is the adjudicating body, has ruled unanimously 5-0, incontrovertibly in a 15-page decision, that what we’re doing is absolutely legal.”

Some of the folks who work nearby are trying to keep an open mind.

“I have kids. Sometimes they come here. It’ll be a great way to give them a lesson about life,” Pamela Wittman said.

Rosenblatt hopes to open the shelter in a few weeks, but a pending lawsuit by neighborhood residents may delay things. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has requested the city hold off allowing occupancy of the shelter until a court rules on that lawsuit.

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