...after many hushed negotiations with state Assembly members, DHS decided to change the approval process for shelters in a bid to improve frayed community relations.
Under the current policy, a company or nonprofit that wants to open a shelter must notify the community before submitting an application to the city. But it has no responsibility to follow up. After approving a long-term shelter application, DHS holds a public hearing near City Hall at the Mayor's Office of Contract Services.
But advocates assert there is little advance notice of the hearings, and that they aren't accessible to community members who live outside Manhattan.
The new policy requires DHS to give the community board and all elected officials who represent the district that receives a shelter a full 45 days' notice before the hearing in lower Manhattan. Within those 45 days, a representative of either DHS or the provider that proposed the shelter also will be required to attend a community board meeting in the district to discuss the project.
The new policy goes into effect immediately but does not apply to emergency shelters.
"We are looking into expanding and re-evaluating the current requirement as a means of improving the notification system" for emergency shelters, said a DHS spokeswoman.
In other words, expect more Westways and Pan Ams in the future.