Upper East Siders Want Their Homeless Contained

by AMANDA MELILLO · May 5, 2008

Maybe you think of Upper East Siders as those that only dress in clothes from Madison Avenue boutiques, think anything above 86th Street or below 42nd Street is, frankly, dangerous, and only attend charity events when they're balls thrown by A-listers and there's the promise of being photographed and ending up on socialite websites. Well, you would be wrong! (Or maybe not far off the mark, but not entirely right…) It's Upper East Siders that are fighting the funding cuts to a homeless shelter on East 77th Street.

The city annually gives $1.2 million to the shelter that provides all the services by day necessary for getting a permanent roof over one's head—such as counseling, medical treatment, help to find housing, and buses to shelters with beds for somewhere to sleep at night. The city wants to cut funds to redirect them to "Safe Havens"—round-the-clock homeless shelters that provide beds by night and the same services by day. Community Board 8 sent a letter to the city in protest that they were "dismayed" and that the shelter is doing remarkably good work. The Post reports that "Neighbors fear that the center's closing will leave many displaced homeless people wandering the streets and hanging out in Central Park."

Wait a minute….is this really the heart of the issue? That the city's indigent may take to the streets again, sullying a pristine area? I sincerely hope it's for the work the shelter does that has raised concern over funding cuts. And personally, I've grown rather fond of the homeless man that panhandles outside the Starbucks near my apartment. I feel a little off on the days I don't hear "Got any money, miss?" on the way to the subway, and don't see Starbucks sippers chilling out and chatting with him outside the café.