Harlem May Not Evict the Disabled After All

Savoy West, 555 Lenox Avenue

Community Board 10 has found itself between a rock, a hard place and a new luxury building. After overwhelmingly rejecting a proposal to house non-criminal developmentally disabled young adults in one of Harlem’s new high-end apartment building, the  community board is re-thinking their blanket opposition to “special interest housing,” DNAinfo reports.

In the initial proposal, a local nonprofit proposed buying two condos at the Savoy West to house seven developmentally disabled men. The pre-war historic building was recently renovated and represents the new breed of luxury condos in Harlem: a gym, 24-hour concierge, on-site laundry and rooftop terraces.

Community Options, the non-profit hoping to buy the apartments, planned to use the condos as a group home for young men with intellectual disabilities who have aged out of the foster care system.

The board had voted against the plan — 33-to-2, with three abstentions — because it believed there was already an abundance of “special interest” housing, such as drug treatment centers, halfway houses and group homes in Harlem. In 2008, the board approved a moratorium against approving any similar housing.

“We feel that as a community board we have more than our fair share of special interest housing,” said Stanley Gleaton, who leads the board’s land-use committee, in explaining the board’s recent objection. “It’s nothing against people with disabilities.”

Community Options representative Eileen Egan, however, claims that it is unfair to compare the seven-person group home to larger special-interest facilities in the neighborhood. “They are lumping us in with other kind of facilities,” Ms. Egan told DNAinfo. “The community board is counting a 200-bed nursing home as being in the same category of a three-person residence for the intellectually disabled.”

Perhaps realizing the heartlessness of its ways, Community Board 10 is reviewing their initial rejection of the plan.


Harlem May Not Evict the Disabled After All