Harlem has every right to say no to new shelters

All around Union Square, people walk by and see at least one homeless person on the street begging for food or money. According to Business Insider, New York City has 77,000 people living on the street, making it the city with the largest homeless population.

Muzzy Rosenblatt, the CEO of Bowery Residents' Committee, and Steven Banks, the New York commissioner of social services, created the Landing Road Residence in the Bronx in February. This residence consists of apartments that could be rented from $400 to $1000 with 200 beds at the bottom floor as shelter.

But not all neighborhoods are as welcoming as University Heights in the Bronx when it comes to opening up shelters for homeless people.

In Harlem, residents dislike the idea of opening more institutions for drug abusers, the homeless and those suffering from mental illness.

According to The Wall Street Journal, residents have described the neighborhood as “oversaturated” with these institutions and said that Harlem has become a “dumping ground.”

Families have also complained that they do not want their children living and growing up in an area with institutions like this. In addition, there has not been a decline in drug overdoses; Harlem still accounts for one of the areas with the highest accidental drug overdoses in the city.

Barbara Askins, the president and chief executive of the 125th Street Business Improvement District, said that these complaints have been going on for a while now, and that these institutions are in fact helping people out. If they are, why are these statistics still at an all-time high in Harlem?

Meanwhile, statistics from the New York City Health Department show that the Bronx has a steady increase in deaths related to accidental drug overdoses: In 2000 there were 638 deaths, in 2004 there were 722 deaths, in 2012 there were 730 deaths and lastly in 2016 there were 1,425.

The Bronx continues to have high accidental drug overdoses, which means the complaints of these residents are warranted. With an influx of these institutions, safety becomes a matter of urgency with these residents.

The Mayor’s Office should listen to residents of Harlem. These residents have been complaining for years about the destruction of their neighborhood, yet nothing is being done. It's not fair for people who do need help from these institutions and complaining residents are failing to look at the other point of view. There has to be a plan that benefits both parties.

The Mayor’s Office should step in to offer funding for better hospitals and spread out the construction of new facilities throughout the city.

There should be buses with temporary beds geared toward transporting the homeless. Within these buses, the beds should all be stuffed with blankets and a bag of clean jackets and clothes. With this new bus system and proper funding for shelters, we will be making actual progress toward solving the crisis of homelessness in this city.

-Alison Lui

Accounting ‘22

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