The other heavily tilted shelter, on East Broadway, is also said to be in another former hotel. In November, Thomas Yu, co-executive director of Asian Americans for Equality, a nonprofit social services and affordable housing organization with deep roots in Chinatown, pledged her support, saying his group would provide Chinese-language assistance there.
Shortly after, protesters holding signs saying “AAFE sold out Chinatown” picked up the group’s office.
The day after Ms. Lee’s murder, protesters banged on the office doors and windows and tried to break in, AAFE officials said.
AAFE has now withdrawn from its role at the shelter.
“I’d love it if they put down their pitchforks and help us,” Mr. Yu said, “because we’re all in this together.”
Opponents say the shelters in Chinatown will violate the city’s Fair Share Act, which requires social service programs to be distributed fairly. But the law’s requirements are vague, and the question of whether Chinatown is already congested is a tricky one.
Manhattan Community District 2, which encompasses western Chinatown, has no shelters; Grand Street’s would be the first.
But shelters in Community District 3, which occupies the eastern half of Chinatown, including East Broadway, are home to more than 1,000 people. Opponents of shelters note that this number is much more than the number of homeless people from the neighborhood and argue that the city is placing an unduly heavy burden on the neighbourhood.
To shelter opponents, the city’s rationale for finding safe havens seems wildly circular: They say their existence attracts drug dealers as well as other homeless people, whose presence the city then uses to justify opening more shelters.