New York Billionaires - who love to brag about their philanthropy, are suing to block a homeless shelter from being built in their backyard on "Billionaires' Row."
A Monday lawsuit filed with the New York City Supreme Court by the "West 58th Street Coalition" claims that the 150-person homeless shelter is "unsafe" and would pose risks to both its residents and neighbors.
The building on West 48th St - formerly the Park Savoy Hotel, backs up against the city's most expensive apartment building - One57 - in which a penthouse sold in 2015 for a record-breaking $100.5 million.
Residents are also concerned that the shelter will attract crime to the wealthy up-market Manhattan neighborhood.
“Not only is the building unsafe, but crime and loitering” attracted by the project will cause “irreparable injuries that have been found to warrant emergency injunctive relief to block the opening of a homeless shelter,” the lawsuit reads.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to start "turning the tide on homelessness," announced at the beginning of 2018 - an ambitious plan which will eventually see 90 shelters open in all five boroughs if New York - as well as an end to the costly practice of housing homeless in hotels.
Some are also concerned that the Democrat mayor is playing politics by choosing to locate a homeless shelter on the wealthy street, where retail estate prices are higher than average, to show that social services sites are being spread across neighbourhoods equally.
Mr De Blasio promised to tackle the unprecedented homelessness crisis when he was re-elected Mayor in 2017, but since he came into office, the number of people in sheltered accommodation has increased by 17 per cent. This is despite doubling the Department of Homeless services' budget in three years. -Telegraph
New York's Department of Homeless Services has disputed residents' previous claims over the high cost of the midtown site - insisting that the average cost to house the homeless in traditional shelters is around $54,000 per years.
“High-quality transitional housing is far more than just a room to sleep in or a roof over one’s head, and cost covers far more than just rent—security, staffing, and essential social services, like case management, housing placement assistance, and employment programming, which are key to helping New Yorkers in need get back on their feet, are all included,” said Isaac McGinn, a DHS spokesman to the New York Post.
McGinn added that the Park Savoy project would be critical in helping "give employed and employable men from Manhattan experiencing homelessness the opportunity to get back on their feet."