Wealthy New Yorkers are furious that Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to open a homeless shelter in their ritzy Manhattan neighborhood.
Dozens of wealthy residents packed into a community meeting to voice their anger over the decision to move 150 homeless men into the former Park Savoy Hotel, NY1 reports. The residents are concerned that the move will increase crime and decrease property values in their neighborhood on “billionaires’ row.”
“How are these poor people, whose only livelihood is in one bag, deal with a $6 coffee and a $15,000 dress on the windows of Fifth Avenue?” asked one resident, a middle-aged man with a foreign accent. “Aren’t we breeding crime by doing this?” he asked, earning applause from the audience.
Some residents have formed a group, the West 58th Street Coalition, to oppose the homeless shelter in their neighborhood, CBS2 reports. CBS2 identified the coalition’s leader as Suzanne Silverstein, a fashion executive who is the president of upscale women’s fashion line Parker NY, according to her LinkedIn profile.
“This is a tourist area. Can you imagine you are like next door, you have the best hotels in New York City, you destroy that in order to help 150 people,” said restaurant owner Maria Loi, according to CBS2. The New York Times has described Loi as a “celebrity chef.”
NY1 reports that some residents have hired a public relations expert and a lawyer in their fight to keep homeless people out of their neighborhood. It’s unclear if that group is the same as the West 58th Street Coalition.
One resident suggested that de Blasio is moving the homeless into the wealthy neighborhood to get at President Trump. “I think it’s crazy. I think he just wants to get to Trump,” Leonardo DeVega told CBS2. “His son lives across the street, and Trump lives a block away.”
Manhattan residents overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 election, giving her more than 86 percent of the vote.