Wall Street firms linked to shelter where slain woman lived
The Coalition for the Homeless denied this week that the city is pressuring the organization to go easy on their investigation of the homeless shelter where Yvonne McNeil lived before police gunned her down on Oct. 2.
McNeil, 57, was shot at least five times by police as she went after a younger homeless woman with a knife on the street just outside the New Providence Women’s’ Shelter at 225 East 45th Street.
The shooting incident remains under active investigation, according to District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.’s office.
Stemming from a 1981 court ruling, the Coalition is charged with monitoring safety of the city shelters.
Sources have told this newspaper that the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) told the Coalition to go easy on their investigation concerning the shelter’s role in McNeil’s death, and that the order came from DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond.
The DHS has not responded to this allegation or to numerous questions regarding conditions at the shelter just prior to McNeil’s death.
Several shelter residents said McNeil complained to shelter authorities about a week before the incident that she was being bullied by the woman she was chasing and nothing was done about it.
The sources said she obtained the knife in the shelter for protection, and that the shelter was rife with illegal activities including use of illegal drugs and prostitution, and at least one case where a woman was beat up in her sleep because she dared to complain about the situation.
The shelter is run by the nonprofit Project Renewal, which runs several city shelters and had $45 million in annual revenue, according to their most recent tax filing.
Project Renewal’s Board of Directors reads like a who’s who of Wall Street financial institution giants and the chair is Morgan Stanley Executive Director Neil Mitchell.
Other financial institutions represented on the board include Western Asset Management Group, Citizens Bank, BT Global Financial Services, Credit Suisse, Barclays Capital, JPMorgan Chase, and Cushman and Wakefield.
Coalition for the Homeless spokesperson Patrick Markee said the DHS has not asked, pressured, ordered or told to go easy on their investigation of the shelter following the incident.
“And even if DHS (or anyone else) asked us not to, we would continue to investigate as we have been doing,” he said in an email.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, in whose district the shelter is located, said he has asked DHS to investigate the shelter in light of McNeil’s death.
“There have been a number of incidents there in recent years,” said Garodnick.
“The community has noticed it has changed over time from a facility providing specific services to a plain vanilla shelter and we have been pursuing recently precisely what the plans are for the shelter and why there has been change,” he added.