Residents claim Mott Haven homeless shelter is forcing them to leave

Residents at a Mott Haven homeless shelter say they are being forced to leave the place they call home. 
A Department of Homeless Services spokesperson tells News 12 the decision to transition the shelter on East 134th Street to serve only men is because of the seasonal increase in need for that group and is part of the agency’s COVID-19 response. 
They say this is because single adults in group settings have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic in the shelter system. 
Philip Casanova and his wife say they have lived there for about a year and a half and question why they are headed to another shelter and not something permanent. 
“When I came here, I had a voucher, I had everything.... Honestly, I should've got housing here,” said Casanova. 
A DHS spokesperson tells News 12, “New Yorkers from every community across the five boroughs have experienced and continue to experience homelessness, and nobody wants to see New Yorkers in need turned out onto the streets without a roof over their heads, especially in the midst of this unprecedented crisis. We stand by our legal and moral obligation to provide shelter every night to those who need it –– and we need every community to join us in this vital mission. During this pandemic, single adults in congregate settings have been some of our most vulnerable clients and our unprecedented efforts to ensure their safety every step of the way have helped us flatten the pandemic curve in our shelter system. At this location, we are transitioning to providing shelter, services, and supports to single adult men ahead of the seasonal increase in the need for shelter for single adult men during winter and as part of our strategic COVID-19 response ensuring the safety of all our clients in the shelter system. We remain committed to working closely with the adult families currently residing at this location and connecting them to suitable transitional or permanent housing resources while staying laser-focused on providing continued services and prioritizing their safety as they restabilize their lives. Working together with neighbors and not-for-profit service provider Westhab, we’re confident that through collaborative support and compassion, we will make this transition the best experience it can be for all.”