Ex-Iloilo socialite abandons NY apartment

By Alex P. Vidal

“At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security.” —Jodi Rell

A FORMER socialite from Western Visayas who has been living in New York since 2001 has abandoned her posh apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan for a “safer” place in New Jersey.

Her reason: “Indi na safe ang palibot” (the environment isn’t safe anymore).

The other reason given by the former socialite, of course, was “I found a cheaper flat there (NJ). Come, visit me if you have time.”

Loida (not her real name) actually wanted to “stay away” from her area “invaded” by homeless people during the pandemic in 2020. “Some of them are muggers and they are still there; their number is growing,” Loida feared.

The vast majority of the New York City’s approximately 50,000 homeless people live in shelters, or about 30,000 in family shelters, and about 18,000 in shelters for single adults, according to the New York Times.

Amid the uproar on the alleged crimes committed by some homeless individuals in the area where Loida used to live, there was a “one man menace, a walking tornado of trash. They call him the “Can Tipper” of the Upper East Side—and he can’t be stopped by the NYPD, homeless outreach workers or local politicians.”

Loida said for years, a homeless man has made a habit of knocking over garbage cans on a roughly 15-block stretch of Lexington Ave. around E. 80th St., frustrating business owners and residents who admit they’ve been unable to stop the near-daily mayhem.


Loida said she wasn’t the only Upper Manhattan resident who have decided to avoid the vicinity “for good” since 2021 when the city government “encouraged” some homeless people to live in shelters located mostly in that area.

But only months after Loida and other residents left the “unsafe” community, newly elected Mayor Eric Adams had cleared 239 encampments of homeless people in 12 days, calling the initiatives crucial to the city’s recovery from the pandemic and to addressing perceptions that it had grown less safe.

Adams had announced that results so far were mixed on New York City’s effort to move homeless people out of the subway system and street encampments and into shelters.

Loida, citing city figures obtained from her new employer, a doctor in the West Side, confirmed that during the first four weeks of the push to clear the subways, nearly 80 people per week accepted placement in shelters, a jump from about 22 per week in January, before the mayor put his subway safety plan into effect.

“May efforts man ang bag o nga mayor pero indi gid kita ka salig sa batasan sang iban nga homeless nga naga sunod sunod sa likod ta kon gab e (The mayor is doing his efforts but we can’t trust the tendency of some of the homeless people to follow us while we were walking home at night),” complained Loida, 56.


Loida’s decision to abandon her old apartment in Manhattan came months before an organization and a real real estate company bought a historic hotel on Manhattan’s Upper West Side reportedly to be converted into a shelter for the seniors and homeless.

The hotel, located a block away from Loida’s former apartment, sat nearly empty for years, falling into disrepair and now it’s in the midst of a transformation.

According to Spectrum News New York, Project Find and Fairstead are turning The Park 79 Hotel into deeply affordable apartments for seniors.

“And it will be connected to services built right into the building,” said Executive Director David Gilcrest quoted by Spectrum News New York. “This really reflects the fact that you value people and the architecture just speaks of dignity.”

Soon, reports added, other boarded up hotels will also be transformed.

The latest development came as New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a new law June 7 which eases restrictions to allow the conversion of underutilized hotel space into permanent housing.

It’s reportedly part of an effort to tackle the scarcity of affordable housing and the homeless crisis gripping many New Yorkers.

Both problems were made worst by the pandemic.

Hochul, who is running for the same position she inherited from the disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the November election, announced: “As New York’s Housing crisis continues to impact families, we’re taking bold action, embracing innovative ideas and thinking outside the box to help ensure that New Yorkers can access safe, live able and quality affordable housing.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)