NEW YORK - Residents on Manhattan's Upper West Side say they were left shocked by the sudden announcement of a planned 146-bed women's shelter in their neighborhood.
The shelter, which is scheduled to open next fall, will be housed in the former Calhoun School building and run by the Volunteers of America.
New York City Council Member Gale Brewer, representing the Upper West Side, expressed concern over the lack of community involvement in the decision-making process.
"If the city is going to make it into a shelter, they have to tear up the inside, as it's a school. So if they're going to do that, they should make permanent affordable housing," Brewer stated.
FOX 5 NY spoke to residents who, like Brewer, were surprised to learn that the school would be gutted, another floor added to the top and the building's footprint expanded.
Brewer told FOX 5 NY that she is not opposed to shelters, there are already others in her district, but says this seems rushed with little community input.
"There are too many unanswered questions about 160 West 74th Street," Brewer added.
A spokesperson from the New York City Department of Social Services, overseeing Homeless Services, responded, "...we remain committed to maintaining open lines of communication with the community and working collaboratively to support our vulnerable neighbors while addressing any concerns as they arise."
However, many residents claim they were not adequately informed.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is set to review the issue next week, focusing on whether the school can undergo such major reconstruction. In the meantime, residents are mobilizing and spreading the word about their concerns and opposition to the project.