Updated, Sept. 23, 9:22 p.m.
A long-controversial homeless shelter on the Upper West Side will cut its number of residents in half from 400 to 200, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, GS ’97, announced jointly on Monday after meeting with the Department of Homeless Services.
Freedom House, which is operated by Aguila, Inc. and located on West 95th Street, was first opened in 2012 as an emergency shelter. Former Comptroller John Liu asked the city to reject the shelter’s contract in October 2013 after an audit revealed messy finances and unsafe conditions.
“Under the agreement, the shelter population will be reduced to 200 adults by November 1st, 2014 as part of an effort to create a better environment for shelter clients, building tenants and the surrounding community,” Stringer’s press release said.
At the April Community Board 7 full board meeting, board member Miki Fiegel asked District 6 City Council member Helen Rosenthal to improve the situation, citing an increase in panhandling and petty crimes in the neighborhood.
“I’m working closely with DHS to ensure they take responsibility for the residents in Freedom House and provide quality rooms, social and case work services, and help in finding jobs for residents as well as security for their neighbors,” Rosenthal said in a statement to Spectator on Monday.
Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor both expressed their hopes to continue improving homeless shelters and homeless services around the city.
“Working with the Comptroller, the Borough President, and our social service provider Aguila, we were able to seize a unique opportunity with more capacity in the system for Adult Families to rightsize the Freedom House shelter. We will continue similar efforts across the board to improve conditions for our homeless clients and to be better neighbors in our host communities,” Taylor said in the comptroller’s statement.
On March 28, the New York State Supreme Court dismissed a complaint by local group Neighborhood in the 90s that asked the city to reject the shelter’s contract.
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Correction: An earlier version of the headline misleadingly implied that the cuts were imminent, when they had just been announced. Spectator regrets the error.