City greenlights 400-bed mega shelter on West 95th





Dear Neighbors,

Aguila, formerly Housing Solutions USA, founded and run by former Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Robert Hess has notified Community Board 7 that he plans to open two new “emergency” homeless shelters at:

  • 316 West 95th Street, an SRO known as the Pennington which is adjacent to
  • 330 West 95th Street The Continental SRO,


The plans with the City Department of Homeless Services are to place 400 homeless “families”—that’s two related people each in 200 tiny rooms between the two SROs. This operation will be a disaster and Aguila has history of poorly-run shelters on the UWS.


Anyone who recalls the disaster of the poorly-run Apple shelter, opened on 27 July 2006 and closed nine months later, after N90s, CB7 leadership and elected officials, created enormous public pressure, knows what mayhem, criminal danger this population poses for the immediate blocks and greater neighborhood.


The DHS Commissioner behind the Apple disaster was Robert Hess.  His group not only controls the Continental and Pennington, but their 49-year lease also gives them control over:

  • 315 West 94th Street, an SRO known as the Montroyale

This property was the site of the aforementioned Apple Shelter, and it is adjacent to the

  • St. Louis, the Lantern Group facility at 319 West 94th Street, which was exposed in two investigative pieces by CBS for its wretched conditions


Is it only a matter of time before Mr. Hess revisits the scene of his previous disaster and puts the same population he placed at the Montroyale/Apple Shelter in 2006. Except now, with the 2 buildings so far, Hess is now doubling down on his previous disaster!


The Apple shelter caused great distress among the existing SRO working poor residents of the Montroyale–10% of the legacy residents moved out within six weeks of the Montroyale/Apple Shelter’s opening on 26 July 2006 due to harassment by the homeless!

At a meeting in March hosted by City Council Member Gale Brewer, legacy SRO residents of the three properties were warned of the pending wave of new homeless neighbors.  The SRO tenants said then, as they have said repeatedly, they do not want to live with MICA and homeless populations. They prefer living with the tourists!

The impact on the neighborhood would be as follows:

The three properties* combined will house hundreds with serious mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, violent and criminal histories. (Remember, Hess hasn’t dropped the other shoe—The Montroyale, neighbor to the St. Louis debacle).


While many in these populations aren’t “bad” people, the introduction of such a huge population will include enough rotten eggs, or people who are not being properly treated with medications, do not have appropriate space to “recreate,” that it will devastate our community.  Riverside Park, West End Avenue and Broadway

Previous shelters have included pedophiles and sexual predators.

To counter the lies of public officials, we monitor the NYS “Megan’s List” and have caught the City placing serious repeat offenders in these very same SROs across from PS 75 on several occasions—and gotten them removed!!

To those who raise NIMBY or racist issues, rest assured that a view of the Borough President’s map, or the study by Neighborhood In The Nineties conducted in 2007, documents that our neighborhood already holds among the highest concentration of problem populations of any city neighborhood—21% of Manhattan’s supportive housing units are on the Upper West Side (CB7), most above 86th ST.

Most SRO residents strongly support us. They ask for our assistance.

Currently, three City agencies—HPD, DHS and HRA are housing nearby more than a thousand special needs residents in such properties as

  • The Narragansett, on Broadway between 93rd and 94th Streets HRA
  • The Senate, 92nd Street and Broadway HRA
  • Camden Hotel, 206 West 95th –ranked the 24th Precinct’s 2nd most dangerous building—the scene of a murder by a City Placement tenant on Friday – HRA
  • 306 and 308 West 94th Street provide emergency homeless shelter HRA
  • 311 West 94th Street is a Section 8 with some problem residents
  • 200 West 94th Street houses some serious mental hygiene cases HPD
  • Yale/Rose on 300 block West 97 HDS/HPD
  • Royal York, 200 block West 97th, adjacent to The Columbia HRA
  • Huntersmoon, Broadway.99th St HRA (Lantern)
  • Frant Broadway/101 DHS

This does not include the 100-plus units in the now-downsized St. Louis at 319 West 94th, other facilities on West 97th Street, West 98 (1), West 99th (3), nor the many SRO hotels between 86th and 100th Streets now sitting partially or totally vacant that also can become shelters with one stroke of the pen.  The latter group has also been impacted by the new law that eliminates the ambiguities of using hotels for tourists.

The concentration of SROs in the neighborhood leaves us vulnerable.  Only by our extraordinary pushback last year did we help prevent The Alexander from becoming home to more than 200 homeless men who cannot live in City shelters because of their violent behavior.

BOTTOM LINEIt’s just too much!  Time to end stop-gap measures that use our Upper West Side neighborhood to cover decades of City policy deficiencies.

The community must again pull together and fight this. 

Here’s who to Contact.  Please do so ASAP.  This is a community emergency and it requires EVERYONE TO PITCH IN

Write and call TODAY!  It’s a TOP PRIORITY!

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and 212-669-8300 and/or fax 212-669-4305 

Call Stringer 2013 (for Mayor) Phone: (212) 349-2013

Gale Brewer, Council Member
(212) 873-0282  or

Linda Rosenthal, State Assembly
212.873.6368 or

The Press Office of Homeless Commissioner Seth Diamond

212-361-7973 (Give them HELL!)


Or call our wonderful Controller John Liu

Mr. Liu gave Hess & Co. a waiver to run an “emergency” shelter so they didn’t have to vet them or put them through a City contract procurement process like a rubber stamp.

Millions of dollars handed to an ex-administration official (Hess) with no oversight, and in disregard to community objections:

212.669.2783 or 212.669.3916

Please join us in a public discussion (not a hearing) This MONDAY, 23 July, there will be a on the 95thStreet situation at:

Community Board 7 at 7 PM at their offices:

250 West 87th Street


A meeting with the DHS Commissioner will be arranged at a later time, and we will be out in full force at the Full Board CB7 meeting on Tuesday, September 4thHOLD that date.


Given the changing of the guard with the 2013 elections, we want to start interviewing and dialoging with the various candidates on both the Citywide and local level.

No neighborhood should have to shoulder such a devastating burden.

If we fail to act, we risk our quality of life, personal safety and the value of our properties.

We are at the beginning of yet another fight.  We have won most of our battles.

We have no choice but to win this one—the future of our neighborhood is in the balance.

Aaron Biller

Neighborhood In The Nineties Inc.

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