The Flatiron District Is Slated For A Homeless Shelter

New homeless shelter is planned for the Flatiron district—but what will the neighbors say?

By Jeff Vasishta September 8, 2016
Editorial Credit: /

Homelessness is one of New York City’s the great epidemics. As the rift between the rich and the poor continues to widen, we currently face the greatest clogging of our homeless shelters ever. The solution to this heartbreaking problem seems to be a no-brainer: Create more shelters to house those who are vulnerable and in need. Hard to argue with that, right?

But, even the most altruistic and liberally-minded New Yorkers may balk at the idea of one of those homeless shelters being located in their neighborhood.

Related: All Aboard The S.S. Homeless Shelter?

When that neighborhood is in the Flatiron District, the trendy downtown neighborhood full of boutiques, modeling agencies and tech companies, altruism can be as rare as great a deal on a condo.  The complaints are likely to resound. That is the scenario being proposed for 25 West 24th Street, the former site of the Semana hotel, which the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) plans to convert into a 47-bed homeless shelter.

As initially reported by DNAinfo, the facility would serve as an emergency shelter for the homeless until they could find more permanent accommodation. Not surprisingly, there has been considerable opposition from neighborhood residents. A final decision has been postponed until later this month, although DHS doesn’t need the local Community Board’s approval to move forward with the conversion according to its spokesperson.

Editorial Credit: elbud /

Some may argue that a well-run shelter couldn’t be much worse that the building’s last incarnation as the Semana Hotel which was labeled as New York’s “grossest sex hotel” in a 2012 Huffington Post article. The move follows Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans announced in February to phase out the practice of housing homeless in hotels after a triple murder in Staten Island.

Flatiron residents are particularly angry about plans for the newest shelter because of the high number of homeless men who currently congregate at the 328-bed BRC (Bowery Residents’ Committee), 12 floor facility at 127 W. 25th St. The building, owned by Foremost Real Estate, was put up for sale in May and could fetch up to $100 million. However, BRC signed a 30-year lease when they moved in and will stay if the building changes hands.

No one denies that homelessness is a daunting problem in NYC— one that we must make immediate strides to fix. Nobody wants to have a homeless shelter in their backyard – but then again, everywhere is someone’s backyard—except for those who have no backyard because they have no home.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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