In July, the Upper West Side suffered a setback. Without warning, the city dumped 283 people at the Hotel Lucerne on Amsterdam. These people are not settling on their fate: they suffer from mental illnesses and addictions. With road traffic already very low, it became a tipping point in place of storage of vulnerable people without any day to day monitoring. Pedestrians feared random attacks. Children saw addicts shooting. Witnesses of paid sex acts were filmed in the streets – incidents that, in view of the incapacitated status of so-called sex workers, appear as assaults.
Some have already left: Residential garbage collection in the area declined by 4.1 percent in August relative to last year, when people living in the home should produce more trash.
But most people have stayed – and have pledged to act. A new group, the Upper West Siders for Safe Streets, launched a Facebook page and soon gathered 15,100 followers.
Separately, Megan Martin, a doctor and neighborhood veteran, worked with neighbors to organize the West Side Community Organization or Westsideco. Westsidico raised more than $ 100,000 from 1,000 donors. “Some people gave $ 10,” Martin says. The group created a web site and hired a lawyer and a PR firm.
“I would never consider myself an activist,” says Martin. “I have always led the anonymous life of New York.” Part of being motivated to see poor treatment of the mentally ill. “On the floor of the people, with needles on the street,” and after receiving insufficient information from the elected officials nearby, “it all bothered me.”
After weeks of media attention, the mayor called the conditions “unacceptable” while closing the shelter. Happy Ending? off course not. The city has moved the residents of Lucerne to another hotel in Midtown. . . And, to do so, the disabled residents of that hotel were displaced until a local outrage was forced to stop.
It is hardly progressive to use sick, poor people as hot bodies to revive the downward hotel industry. “Our organization is definitely not about shuffling”, Martin says.
Still, WestSideco and Upper West Siders for Safe Streets have proven something: people say something about where they live. The media also helped. A post series drew widespread attention to the crisis.
The West Side is as easy to mock as the NIMBYs, ignoring that this area with 103 people per acre is 2 ₂ / of times as an average Big Apple neighborhood.
It is easy to dismiss the West Side as a “gated community”. Except that if the West Siders wanted to live in a gated community, they would not bother with it. They will just do it. . . Steps to a gated community.
And of course, while the Upper West Side is whiter than most neighborhoods, it is a third minority. A white supremacist would hardly like to call it home.
Instead of dismissing people fighting to keep overdoses and prostitution off, why not emulate them when they can migrate to a “private community” in Florida?
What the Poles would fear – and potentially poll – is not the money of the Upper West Side. The vote is: 15,100 people, organized in one block, can swing a city election.
The Upper West Side is liberal: It voted against Mayor Rudy Giuliani in its successful elections. But the area is not crazy. Voters will not repeatedly elect polls that systematically ignore their concerns.
In poorer neighborhoods, Poole makes a cynical bet: that people in eastern New York and the South Bronx are struggling for survival to create a focused push to prevent far more serious crime, such as a shooting spurt.
But poor neighborhoods are already proving the dreaded poll wrong: The same week de Blasio worked on the Upper West Side, he said he would move homeless residents from the Long Island City Hotel, because – people from nearby Queens House Live in public housing complex. Was held to complain.
If New York is to overcome its COVID-19 malaise, it must replicate local activism, not dismiss it – and actually help mentally ill homeless people and addictions, not them from hotel to hotel To move.
Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor of the City Journal.