Letters to the Editor

About homeless residents on the UWS, parking in Chelsea

| 25 Aug 2020 | 03:06

A Call for Compassion

Re “Shelter From the Virus” (Aug. 20), thankfully, “anger and anxiety” are not the only things “rising” in the wake of the housing of homeless in four hotels on the UWS. On the flip side, so are tolerance and compassion: for every angry or concerned voice, there is an understanding and tolerant voice – and this group, too, is coming together, particularly on community chat boards like Nextdoor, and in groups dedicated to finding short- and long-term solutions without the rancor and hyperventilating.

The one thing everyone agrees on is that the plan was badly thought out and badly implemented, and has been badly monitored and managed. However, there are now much clearer and more consistent lines of communication between the hotels, the service providers at the hotels, elected officials, the NYPD and other stakeholders, and things seem to be calming down a little, and will hopefully calm down even more. As Michael Oreskes points out in the article, the “unsettling events” of a stabbing and a punching at the 72nd Street subway station were not related to the “hotel homeless.” Neither was an incident in which a diner was sucker-punched at an outdoor café on Columbus Avenue the same week. (This has also been confirmed by the NYPD.) All of these were simply very badly-timed coincidences. As well, Oreskes points out that “crime on the West Side is down 10% since last year and ... 85% from thirty years ago.”

One thing that has been an issue is that the various groups reacting to this situation are not sharing accurate information; there is a great deal of “bad” information, which is often re-posted, and even some disinformation. For example, many of those on the “angry and anxious” side did in fact blame the hotel homeless for the incidents at 72nd Street and the Columbus Avenue incident, even after the NYPD had confirmed that none of those incidents were connected to them.

Ultimately, however, what seems to get “missed” with those on the “angry and anxious” side is that, as badly planned, implemented and managed as this situation has been, it was done to save lives: homeless shelters are cheek to jowl, with no ability to social distance, thus creating petri dishes for the virus; moving a certain percentage of the men out of the shelters into individual rooms was done to avoid a massive “cluster.” And while I do not downplay or dismiss the concerns and fears of others – whether those fears and concerns are based in reality or in perception – I, for one, am willing to accept a temporary “hit” to my quality of life if it means that possibly hundreds of people will be able to survive the pandemic.

Ian Alterman

Upper West Side

Dining but no Parking Spots

I’m writing to you as a resident of Chelsea for nine years. It’s great to see local restaurants that I love setting up outside so their businesses can thrive. With many of the tables taking up parking, what is being done to accommodate all the cars that now can’t find spots? Will they be more forgiving about tickets? Doesn’t seem so as I already got one.

Tanya Coppola


MTA Funding

Financial viability in dealing with a potential MTA $12 billion deficit is a four way dance between fare box revenue, City Hall, Albany and Washington. There are $12 billion worth of Federal Transit Administration funding projects and programs in active open grants. The MTA has never initiated and completed a forensic audit to determine unspent available balances. The FTA issued guidance on March 13 that gave all transit agencies including the MTA permission for reallocation of federal funding from capital projects in existing grants to reprogram these funds toward COVID-19 expenses.

The FTA made available $1.4 billion worth of annual formula funding in 2020. The MTA can program these funds toward COVID-19 expenses. MTA has already received $3.9 billion in CARE COVID-19 funding. On October 1, an additional $1.5 billion in 2021 funds will become available. (This assumes Congress completes passage of a transportation funding bill on time for a change and sends it to the President that he can sign it). The MTA can program these funds toward covering deficits as a result of COVID-19. Riders and Washington have already done their part. City Hall and Albany must do likewise.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, NY