Harlem Clinic To Be Demolished For Affordable Housing With Mental Health Services
The Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center has offered therapy, treatment, and substance abuse services to the Harlem, NY, community since 1969. But the center is gearing for a major shift as it’s set to be bulldozed and transformed into a nine-story tower with 200 apartments and mental health services for the homeless, the elderly, and low-income families, CBS News reports.
Construction is set to take years, with the center operating out of a temporary location 10 blocks away for the time being. Once completed, the building will span Amsterdam Avenue between West 145th and 146th streets and include a new and improved Bowen Center on the first floor.
“Sometimes when you go from an old design to a new design, it makes for a situation where it’s even more comfortable,” Patricia Jordan, Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center board member says.
While the project has good intentions, it has faced opposition from Hamilton Heights residents who fear the new construction would end the services locals have received from the center for 50 years.
Many spoke out after plans for redeveloping the health center were detailed during a September 2022 meeting by Community Board 9, sparking rumors the center’s facilities would be forced into smaller spaces, Patch.com reports.
“I’m a little shocked, surprised, that we were not made aware of this,” community board member Victor Edwards said during the meeting.
It was also reported the clinics would have their rent doubled, something CB9 Chair Barry Weinberg said was “unacceptable.” Other locals believe they’re being forced to suffer the brunt of the city’s continued plans to push supportive housing efforts in their neighborhood.
“We support social services, but the residents of Harlem primarily, people of color, are asked to take a disproportionate share of that burden,” harlem resident Ernest Lyles told Harlem View.
Lyles, who lives near the building with his wife and two children, worries that the community is becoming more dangerous because of shelters, injection sites, and other types of supportive housing.
“The other day, my kids stopped playing in the flower beds because there were capsules from drugs being left over,” Lyles said.
Those behind the development project say the goal is to increase affordable housing in the area.