Drop-in center threatened by city transit plans

The Port Authority has announced plans to evict the Open Door Drop In Center, which provides showers and health services for homeless people, to make way for either the planned westward extension of the 7 line or additional space for bus terminal employees, depending who you ask.

The Port Authority founded the Open Door center, which is next to the Bus Terminal on 41st Street, in 1998, in partnership with Urban Pathways for the Homeless, as a warm place to put homeless people, mostly men, who were evicted from the bus terminal. Increasingly, though there are no beds, roughly half of the up to 200 people a day who use the center are choosing to sleep there rather than go into a shelter system they don't feel safe in.

The Department of Homeless Services says that the city has no immediate plans to replace the drop in center, but may use up to $2 million they may or may not get from the feds as stimulus money to add beds to shelters run by religious groups.

The city obtained an easement for the entire lot the center sits on for the subway line extension, but that's not what the PA says they're going to use it for. A PA spokesman said that the property would be used to give additional space to bus terminal employees.

On a possibly unrelated note, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, the city has told service providers that it plans to close all drop in centers, which it doesn't believe to be necessary. The city also plans to move homeless intake out of Manhattan, where almost 60% of homeless New Yorkers live. The 7 line extension is expected to spark gentrification in the west 30s and 40s. There may be a little more to this than a locker room.

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