NEW YORK — Throughout the summer and fall, some residents of Hell’s Kitchen said their neighborhood had changed — rapidly.
Reports of fights, violence, drug use and more were common. Many of those complaints were centered on one block: 36th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. That’s where two hotels had been converted to homeless shelters, a conversion done in the midst of a pandemic to allow people experiencing homelessness to socially distance.
Now, about a month after NY1 first reported on this violence, the Department of Homeless Services is planning to move one of those shelters to another block in the same neighborhood.
About 300 men experiencing homelessness will move out of the former DoubleTree Hotel on West 36th Street to another hotel location on 40th Street. For months, members of the local community board have pushed the city to move some of the men off of the block. The hotels that had been converted to shelters are directly across the street from one another. The density, some local residents said, was the issue.
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In a statement, Neha Sharma, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeless Services, said: "After continued consultation with Manhattan Community Board 4, who asked if we could consider adjusting distribution of emergency COVID hotel locations within the district, we identified an available alternative location where we and our not-for-profit partner NAICA believe we can better serve and continue to protect approximately 300 clients currently residing in the district.”
Video obtained exclusively from NY1 last month showed fights in front of the hotel, spilling into the street. In one video, a man is tased by security. In pictures we obtained, a shelter resident is seen holding a needle to his arm through the hotel window.
In the fall, residents created a new neighborhood association, the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Coalition, to try to convince the city to relocate some of the men. While the move is just a few blocks north, one member told NY1 he believed it will help alleviate some of the so-called issues on the block.
In a statement to NY1, chair of Community Board 4, Lowell Kern, said, "The Board has been requesting this relief since this summer, when it became apparent that there were simply too many hotels being used on a single block as temporary DHS facilities.”
He went on to call it appropriate and needed.
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