HomeChinese AmericanNY Chinatown protests proposal for 9th homeless shelter in area

NY Chinatown protests proposal for 9th homeless shelter in area

Over 50 protesters Wednesday gathered outside 91 East Broadway in New York Chinatown to express disapproval of the City’s plan to convert a former hotel into a homeless shelter.

The protesters are concerned about adding another shelter to Chinatown when there are already eight in the neighborhood, causing concern for public safety and rapid decline of the area following the pandemic.

This protest is in response to the court’s dismissal last month of a lawsuit filed by a coalition of community groups against the city over the same plan. According to Worldjournal.com, the plaintiff argued that the city’s fair share report contained inaccurate descriptions of the community, which the judge ruled as baseless.

A member of the coalition Chen Jianshan said he did not agree with the judge’s decision and will “keep fighting,” reported Worldjournal.com. He expressed that Chinatown is already under immense pressure due to increased crime from COVID-19 and the advancement of prison construction work, so adding more shelters to those already in the vicinity will “overburden” a community with many elderly and children. 

According to Documented, the single male shelter at 91 East Broadway would be 36,000 square feet with seven floors and house up to 120 men, run by the non-profit Care for the Homeless. 

Documented reported that Robert Mascali, a government affairs consultant and former deputy commissioner at the NYC Department of Homeless Services, wrote that he has never seen such a high concentration of homeless shelters within a half-mile radius, referring to the eight existing shelters.

“A lot of these shelter burdens are on minority neighborhoods, including Chinatown, which is really not fair,” said Jacky Wong, a member of Great Chinatown Civic Coalition (GCCC), citing the findings in a fair share report released by the City.

“If you look at the numbers, certain neighborhoods have about 100 times more shelter beds than other neighborhoods. And there are four communities in New York City that have no shelter at all, which are predominantly wealthy neighborhoods. And this is really not right.”

When the shelters were proposed in 2022, residents also expressed concerns over public safety in the area following the rise in anti-Asian hate. Protestors also cited the police department’s data showing that half of the suspects involved in hate crimes against Asians in 2021 had a history of mental health issues.

“We live next to the proposed homeless shelter site, and I’m frankly terrified of the prospect of having a homeless shelter right there,” Jennie Ma told NBC New York when the proposal was announced in 2022. “We have young kids, they’re going to have level one and level two sex offenders — that’s against minors.”

The GCCC also urged the city to prioritize more urgent needs of the community such as a proposal by Councilman Christopher Marte to turn the site into senior housing or alternative housing programs.

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