Tip of the iceberg — what may happen when evictions begin

For those unfamiliar with Manhattan, the Upper West Side (UWS) is a relatively small geographic area to the west of Central Park, extending roughly from W 60th Street to W 120th St, a distance about three miles south to north and having a varying width. The population is about 191,000. Its normal demographics are stated at: https://furmancenter.org/neighborhoods/view/upper-west-side

Posted on August 24, 2020 at 8:08 pm by West Sider

Possessions of homeless people left on 95th and Broadway earlier this month. Photo by Oliver.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has been getting more involved in the debate over homelessness on the Upper West Side. Hotels are now housing hundreds of people experiencing homelessness, to protect them from Covid-19, and street homelessness has “increased dramatically,” she says.

Last week Brewer sent a letter asking the Department of Homeless Services to send more outreach workers to the Upper West Side to handle the increase. She pinpointed nine spots (below) where she says outreach workers should go.

DHS and its partners like Goddard Riverside often reach out to homeless people to try to convince them to seek shelter instead of staying on the street. By law, people can’t be forced to enter a homeless shelter, and those experiencing homelessness sometimes say they feel safer on the street than in a shelter.

DHS also sometimes orders clean-ups of blocks where homeless people have placed their possessions or made makeshift camps. Often, the homeless people return to the spots after the “clean-up”.

A notice on 72nd Street from DHS about a clean up. Click to enlarge.

Brewer’s entire letter is here. Below is the section on street homelessness:

Lastly, street homelessness on the Upper West Side has now increased dramatically. We often hear that DHS and other homeless outreach organizations are doing all that they can. The increases in drug dealing, street encampments, and public disturbances make clear that more must be done. While there are dozens of conditions that need to be addressed, the following problem areas need immediate attention:

  • W. 72nd Street between West End Avenue & Broadway
  • Broadway between W. 78th and 79th Streets
  • W. 79th Street from Broadway to Columbus Avenue
  • W. 82nd Street & Broadway
  • W. 86th Street & Broadway
  • W. 95th Street & Broadway
  • Theodore Roosevelt Park
  • Panhandling in outdoor dining venues along Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues
  • Panhandling inside of Fairway on 74th Street & Broadway

DHS tells us that the agency has been working to help people who are living on the street, a task that can often take time.

“Anytime our outreach teams encounter an individual living unsheltered, we work to engage them and offer services. Anytime the City encounters, learns of, or receives a report about a condition on the street that needs to be addressed, the City addresses it as quickly as possible, with City Agencies responding as appropriate. During that process, whenever DSNY or DOT or another partner Agency addresses a condition, we at DHS and our not-for-profit social service provider partners are on hand, discussing directly with any unsheltered individuals who may be there at the time the range of resources/services available to them, and coordinating with partner Agencies as needed. Through the process, we’re focused on preserving the trust our outreach teams develop with these individuals every day, and building on those relationships, as we acknowledge their humanity and encourage them to come off the streets. Engaging those in need isn’t easy or quick work, nor is accepting services for those who’ve lived unsheltered for some time – it requires persistence, compassion, and trust and we will keep coming back.”

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