FIRST ON amNY: Homeless men left stranded in the Bronx after being turned away at Safe Haven

Two homeless individuals from the East Village say they were left stranded in the Bronx after accepting services from outreach teams, including a “Safe Haven” spot that just opened last month.

Ricardo Morales and Francisco told amNewYork Metro that they were approached by outreach services on April 26 and offered them single rooms inside a newly opened Safe Haven that Mayor Eric Adams himself cut the ribbon on during a ceremony on March 29. Excited to take advantage of the offer from the DSS-DHS teams, Francisco and Morales said the outreach workers called in advance to ensure there was space at the Morris Avenue Safe Haven and then placed them in an Uber.

After arriving, the pair began filling out paperwork for their new rooms when the promise of a roof over their heads deteriorated in an instant. According to Morales, during the process, a social worker began asking from where they had arrived before telling them that the haven would not accept their application since they traveled from Manhattan. 

Reiterating the scenario, Morales told amNewYork Metro that the social worker flat out denied them entry stating: “We don’t accept people from the Village. Bronx is Bronx, the Village is the Village.”  

“I tell them: ‘Why do you harass us like this? Who are you, I don’t know you.’ They said: ‘I’m a social worker working with this building. We don’t accept these papers, throw it out.’ So, I waste my time. I’m livid because I lost my bed at the Bowery Mission. Someone stole my bed, somebody stole my blankets and now I have to sleep outside again,” Morales said.

Homeless outreach teams. Photo by Dean Moses

Francisco and Morales explained that they were forced to exit the premise, leaving them stranded in unfamiliar territory. The two men were then left to try and find their way back to Tompkins Square Park without even a MetroCard in their pocket. Francisco says he can’t understand why he was turned away when the outreach teams contacted the Haven in preparation for their arrival.

“They called ahead of time, and when we got there, they said that no call was made. We were told to go there, but a social worker from the building said if we are not from the Bronx we can’t stay,” Francisco said.

Francisco shared that he is upset not only due to the wasted time but also since it was an embarrassing experience. He told amNewYork Metro that he takes pride in who he is and just because he lives on the streets, it doesn’t make him a drug addict.

“I told the social worker I’m in the streets but I’m not a junkie. This happened because of a life situation. I thought that it would be okay but living in a shelter was bad, there were rats and roaches,” Francisco added, stating why the Morris Avenue Safe Haven appeared to be a better and safer option. 

Francisco was offered to return to the Bronx one day after being turned away. Photo by Dean Moses

Mayor Eric Adams officially opened the Morris Avenue Safe Haven at 528 Morris Ave. — a site that boasts medical and mental health services, abuse services, and 80 beds — last month as a part of an initiative that will see 500 new low-barrier beds across the city.

“The opening of the Morris Avenue Safe Haven, and others like it, will provide unhoused New Yorkers a place to live, heal, and be cared for. Not only are we offering safe spaces to those experiencing homelessness, but we’re offering New Yorkers second chances. The 80 beds at this location will be a part of the 500 beds opening in the coming weeks. Instead of trapping New Yorkers in a labyrinth of despair, we are making sure those who have been lost are found again by providing a path to stability, long-term housing, lasting community, and common purpose,” Adams said in a press release. 

On April 27 the men were back in Tompkins Square Park and were again approached by outreach times — but now say they won’t accept services following their ordeal.  

In response to this incident, a DSS-DHS spokesperson said: “The clients were referred to a safe haven yesterday, but today they were found to be on the streets again and we were able to connect them with services at another site.” 


One city worker accompanying outreach teams became enraged when photographed. Photo by Dean Moses