Chinatown residents upset over homeless shelter project in their neighborhood

CHINATOWN, Manhattan (PIX11) – Sentiment against a homeless shelter project is so strong in Chinatown that the front door of the shuttered hotel where it would be located is covered in protest flyers and the sidewalks at nearby are covered in stenciled signs that read “no shelter.”

“We have our homeless population, but it’s really exploded since the city started bringing homeless people here from other parts of the city,” said community activist Karlin Chan.

Chan joins the chorus of Chinatown residents protesting a proposed seventh homeless shelter in the area. Four others are also under consideration.

The latest, the former Bowery Hanbee Hotel on the corner of Grand Street and the Bowery, was the subject of a heated community board meeting where hundreds protested outside.

“They actually allow level 1 and 2 sex offenders to come in as a drop-in center,” said rally organizer and committee member Susan Lee of the Alliance for the Preservation and Enhancement of community. “They would allow level 3 and as you can see there is a daycare just across the street.”

Protesters point to the recent surge in Asian hate crimes over the past two years, some of which are believed to have been committed by homeless people and people with mental health issues. More recently, in the murder of Christina Yuna Lee, a Chinatown resident, the suspect was homeless.

“I feel so much pain and fear that this community is feeling,” said Corinne Low, executive director of the Open Hearts Initiative. “I am an Asian American myself.”

Homeless advocates say homeless people have also been attacked in the series of shootings, including two fatalities, in Washington DC and New York. They say this particular shelter would provide badly needed housing and mental health services.

“It’s a drop-in center with stabilization beds meant to serve people who are already homeless in the neighborhood,” Low added.

If approved, the shelter could open in late May or early June.

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