Activism at the New Providence Women’s Shelter on 225 East 45th Street is a question of survival.
That after homeless residents circulated two petitions last month in yet another grassroots effort to clean the facility up.
The petitions came less than two months after police shot and killed Yvonne McNeill, 57, outside New Providence after they came upon her chasing a younger woman, who also lived at the shelter, with a knife.
Several sources at the shelter said McNeill obtained the knife after complaining for weeks how the woman she was chasing was bullying her, and was involved in illegal behavior with workers at the shelter.
One of the petitions requests that resident aid workers cease such actions as slamming doors to rooms, playing loud music, waking up residents every ten minutes and otherwise causing undue disturbances of residents. This petition also wants the male maintenance workers to stop being abusive in the mornings and harassing residents out of the bathrooms.
The second petition requests that another resident, who signatories say is constantly smoking crack and marijuana, be moved to another medical shelter to “best guard her safety as well as the other residents” because of her constant drug-related circumstances.
The two petitions were passed onto the nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless the first week of December and they told residents they would forward it on to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS).
“I feel the director, assistant director and the case manager (of the shelter) should all be dismissed for not providing a safe environment at the shelter and for purposely keeping residents from getting housing,” said one signatory of the petition.
The signatory explained how Project Renewal, the nonprofit agency that runs New Providence and several other shelters around the city, purposely keeps residents from finding an apartment so they could keep their lucrative agency in business.
Last year, Project Renewal had about $45 million in revenue – much of it generated with taxpayer money.
“Their (Project Renewal) goal is to keep you in the shelter system. There are 45,000 people in the shelter system including children and 200,000 available apartments in the five boroughs. Some are owned by HPD (the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development), others are providers and independent large landlords,” said the signatory.
This source explained how the case manager is supposed to help shelter residents find independent housing, but instead impede the search because they make money from housing people in their shelters.
This source, for example, had to go to the Coalition for the Homeless to sidestep the Project Renewal case manager to find housing.
Project Renewal spokesperson Senella Thornton said DHS is their spokesperson agency on any matters related to the shelter.
DHS did not respond to inquiries at press time.