Following a police shooting death of a homeless woman last week, the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has evaded several attempts to respond to life-threatening allegations concerning the shelter where the woman lived.
Police shot and killed Yvonne McNeil, 57, at about 8:30 pm, on Sunday, Oct. 2 on the street outside the New Providence Women’s Shelter on East 45th Street near Second Avenue in Manhattan where she lived.
At the time of the shooting, she was chasing another woman from the shelter with a knife. Police ordered her to drop the knife and when she didn’t, they pumped at least five bullets into her.
In the wake of the shooting, several women living in the shelter have talked to this newspaper stating that McNeil was a gentle and caring woman who obtained the knife to defend herself from bullying in the shelter, which is rife with illegal drugs and prostitution.
According to one shelter resident, McNeil complained to authorities at the shelter a few weeks ago that she was being bullied and physically assaulted by the woman she was chasing. The matter was never addressed.
Several shelter residents identified the woman being chased as “Baby Bop”, a younger resident who is suspected of being in cahoots with security and possibly resident aides (RA) who utilize the shelter as a location for their illicit behavior.
Among their allegations is that the shelter has hired male parolees who work in tandem with some of the shelter residents in illegal behavior. That one resident who complained, had her teeth knocked out while she slept from somebody hitting her in the mouth with a lock put into a sock.
Other residents complained that women with physical disabilities and who live on upper floors were told if there was a fire they would burn to death rather than be evacuated downstairs.
Following McNeil’s death, some of the residents allege they tried to hold a memorial service for the slain woman in the shelter, but were told they couldn’t. They wound up holding the service on the street.
These allegations, among others, raise serious questions on why McNeil had a knife and was chasing another resident in the first place.
The nonprofit organization Project Renewal runs the shelter under contract with DHS. They referred all questions to DHS, who have not responded as of press time to several inquiries.
According to the DHS Web site, the New Providence Residence is a six-story substance abuse shelter for 130 women and comprised of four interconnecting buildings with a total of 42,000 square feet of space.
The Web site indicates that Project Renewal was awarded roughly $2.4 million in annual funding from the DHS, plus another $580,000 from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in a four-year contract from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2011.
The contract also includes one four-year option to renew, meaning that it could possibly be operating the facility through June 30, 2015.
Police officials have also not responded to several inquiries regarding the shooting.