Outraged Harlem Residents Speak Out Against Injustice Refusing To Remain Silent

March 13, 2024

By Eartha Watts-Hicks

Residents of Community Board District 10 are outraged by the city’s plans for the luxury condominiums located at 2201 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem, NY.

The five-story building outfitted with marble countertops, high-end flooring, appliances, and amenities such as an indoor swimming pool, was earmarked to be a repurposed shelter to warehouse asylum seekers before word circulated to the community.

The five-story building outfitted with marble countertops and amenities such as state-of-the-art appliances, high-end flooring, and an indoor swimming pool, was earmarked to be repurposed as a shelter for warehouse asylum seekers before word circulated to the community.

“That is not fair!” says Tiffany Fulton, community organizer and founder of Silent Voices United. “Our people, right here in this community, need housing.”

The luxury building has been the center of federal court litigation over a “clouded title” dispute between the original owner, Trevor Whittingham, and the builder. Whittingham, the title holder, claims the builder failed to complete the project by the bank’s deadline and then illegally placed a lien on the property. The 2201 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard address has community leaders pursuing litigation. Tiffany Fulton and her husband, Darrell Fulton, noticed unusual activity. Teams of people were ushering large shipments into the building, which has sat vacant for over a decade. They began asking questions.

After reaching out to the Community Board, Democratic Club, and District Leader William Allen, Fulton learned that none of the local community leaders had an explanation and that, initially, none were notified of the status of the luxury building. An email from Congressman Adriano Espaillat’s office confirmed the city’s plans to repurpose 35 luxury condominium units into 54 units to serve as a sanctuary shelter for asylum seekers.

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The end of the statewide COVID-19 pandemic moratorium has resulted in a surge of life-long Harlem residents scrambling to other states for decent, affordable housing. New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Georgia have seen a reverse migration, an uptick in relocations as Harlem residents have ventured south.

“This feels like a slap in the face. We already have our own crisis right here in this community. We have families in shelters who have been waiting for housing. With the end of the eviction moratorium, we have generational residents in the community who fear being evicted. We have parents living with adult children who have two jobs and still cannot afford to live on their own. Members of the community have children and grandchildren who have been in the shelter system for years, awaiting permanent housing. We don’t need another homeless shelter.”

Community Board District 10 currently has nineteen (19) shelter facilities. This district is oversaturated. A moratorium against adding additional shelter facilities has been in effect,” says Shanny Herrera District Manager for Councilmember Yusef Salaam.

The New York City Charter’s “fair share” provisions require all districts to do their “fair share” to confront citywide problems like homelessness by equitably distributing public facilities throughout the city. De Blasio made ‘fair share” promises to establish shelters in every community district. Mayor Eric Adams has also claimed that all neighborhoods would do their part to resolve the ongoing crisis (even those districts with zero shelter facilities). Residents of District 10 are appalled that the city had not held a public forum or informed Community Board 10 of plans but instead skipped protocol and began stocking units with bunk beds.

“Mayor Adams has appeared at two different community forums, and he’s promised the community a workshop series on affordable housing. But we don’t need that. We need income-driven permanent housing. That’s what we are fighting for,” says Tiffany Fulton.

Silent Voices United is circulating a petition and has taken the matter to court.

For further inquiries, please contact Tiffany Fulton through my social media inbox, or email: Silentvoicesunitedinc@gmail.com, or call (800) 330-9304. To sign the petition or contribute to the cause, visit https://chng.it/DbWPBrB6sc.

Eartha Watts-Hicks

Eartha Watts-Hicks is Harlem World Magazine’s Executive Editor. She is the award-winning author of Love Changes and a NYCHA/NAACP ambassador for literacy. For more information, visit www.linktr.ee/Earthatone.

Photo credit: 1) Outraged Harlem Residents Speak Out Against Injustice Refusing to Remain Silent Protesters, organized by Silent Voices United, toted picket signs opposing the city’s plans to convert a vacant luxury building into another homeless shelter in Harlem. 2) Luxury apartment building at 2101 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem, NY is in dispute. by Eartha Watts-Hicks.

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