March on Gracie Mansion

On July 10th (this Saturday) at 2:00 pm, Shams, aka Da Homeless Hero, and numerous other organizations are marching to charge the mayor with reckless endangerment of homeless New Yorkers due to poor conditions of the shelters and lack of social services for shelter residents, and also to demand fundamental reform to shrink the ever-growing shelter system.  These reforms range from changes to the voucher system to get people out of shelters, and addressing the lack of incentives that promote truly affordable housing.

The march starts at 86th and East End Avenue.  Please consider joining the march at that location or at Ginjan Cafe (Park/125) at 1:30pm.

This march is highly relevant because many of the quality of life issues we witness daily can be attributed to mismanagement of the congregated adult-only shelters on Wards Island and to some extent shelters in other Harlem locations.

Let’s also not forget that East Harlem and Central has 14% of NYC’s entire single individual homeless shelter capacities (10% in East Harlem, 4% in Central Harlem).

Fair Share?

I was recently able to get data on the homeless shelter populations by community board. Looking at the big picture (at the borough level) it is clear that one borough is not pulling its fair share:

As many political observers have noted, Staten Island scares the bejeezus out of elected officials who are loathe to rile them up. (Recall that during the discussion regarding De Blasio’s plan to replace Rikers Jail with smaller, borough-based jails, Staten Island was somehow allowed to be the only borough that would not get a new jail.)

The powerful, conservative voting block/s on Staten Island, and the politicians on the Island and at City Hall who cater to them, shield that borough from pulling its fair share.

Even when you account for borough population, the per capita percentage of people in homeless shelters displays Staten Island’s unfair participation in addressing the homeless crisis.

Washburn Wire Factory

After last week’s post on the East River Plaza and the Washburn Wire Factory that it replaced, a reader forwarded this great look at the postindustrial ruin that was the Wire Factory. It’s well worth a read:

Before Wards Island

Before Wards Island and the infamous M35 bus, Camp LaGuardia, north of the city near Chester, NY, was New York City’s homeless facility.

Camp LaGuardia begin in 1918 as a prison for women, but in 1934 it became a work camp for homeless men. Men at the camp were trained under a scheme of “rehabilitative work” and it was hoped that they would find employment at the many nearby resorts in the Catskills.

By the 1990s, Camp LaGuardia’s homeless population had grown to consist more of young, drug addicted and/or mentally ill males who were allowed the leeway to leave the grounds. The residents of Chester were on edge after incidents of lewdness and public urination. As part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s five-year plan to reduce homelessness in New York City and allocation of Camp LaGuardia’s $19 million budget on more long-term solutions such as subsidized housing, city officials announced the closing of the camp in November 2006.

New York City sold the Camp LaGuardia to Orange County in 2007 for $8.5 million.

Lead with Brown Bike Girl

Everyone is invited to attend another round of group ride leader training with The Brown Bike Girl

The purpose of this training is to build local cycling leadership and provide safe, local opportunities to ride outside. Participants will receive free training and promotional items, and are expected to lead at least 1 group bike ride in East Harlem in 2021. Details about this year’s training cycle are included below. Please let us know if you have any questions, and share this opportunity with your communities!


  • Applications close March 26th
  • Interested participants must apply through the link provided
  • Applicants will be notified by March 31st if they have been accepted. Preference will be given to Harlem and East Harlem residents.

Training Schedule

Applicants must be available and willing to attend all sessions to participate in this year’s training

HNBA and Greater Harlem Coalition Member Interviewed

Yesterday a neighbor and HNBA member was interviewed to present her (and Harlem’s) perspective on how the Upper West Side seems to have gotten its knickers in a twist about homeless men living in their community:

The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association seeks an equitable and fair share distribution of homeless services and shelters throughout all communities in New York City and all 5 boroughs.