Almost three weeks ago, The Dwelling Place — a Hell’s Kitchen-based shelter for victims of domestic violence — announced it was closing its doors for good. Yet women are still living there… and fighting to stay.
- The Dwelling Place, a Hell’s Kitchen-based shelter for victims of domestic violence, announced its closure, but women are still living there and fighting to stay. Legal action has been taken on behalf of the residents by social justice advocate Arthur Schwartz, with allegations against the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany (FSA) for ordering the women to relocate.
- Former DPNY President Deborah Pollock, who was fired from her position as director, is accused of having $60,000 missing under her tenure and interfering with the shelter’s operation. Pollock has a history of legal trouble, including a conviction for stealing welfare housing funds, and continues to reside in the building and allegedly interfere with its operations.
- Concerns have been raised about the use of funds, with Schwartz fighting to save the shelter rather than Pollock’s job, and expressing concern that $500,000 raised for the women should not be used for FSA’s legal bills. The shelter has served about 3,000 women over 46 years and is set for a court appearance on September 20.
* This summary is made with the support of AI tool ChatGPT 4.0 and quality checked by W42ST staff.
Legal action is being taken on behalf of the residents by New York social justice advocate and lawyer Arthur Schwartz, with Council Member Erik Bottcher as a plaintiff, alleging that the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany (FSA) ordered the women living in the shelter to relocate from 409 W40th Street.
In a further twist to the tale, former DPNY President Deborah Pollock, who was fired on June 12, is accused of having $60,000 missing under her tenure and has been involved in past legal troubles. Pollock, who was employed as director of The Dwelling Place from 2020 with a salary of $75,000, according to the non-profit organization’s accounts, continues to reside in the building, and has been accused of interfering with the shelter’s operation since her dismissal — including creating a new organization and soliciting donations online.
The Franciscan sisters decided to shut down the shelter rather than seek a replacement after terminating Pollock’s employment. Court papers also say she has interfered with the operation of the shelter after her dismissal which has prevented the shelter from successfully operating and has led to the “business shutting down.”
It is alleged at least $60,000 have gone missing under Pollock. This includes over $20,000 in unpaid power bills, $10,000 in heating bills, and unpaid cable, internet, and phone bills. She was fired after FSA learned that she had been indicted in a welfare housing scam in 2001. Pollock pleaded guilty to stealing $300,000 in welfare housing funds. FSA also says they had “financial questions” that include numerous bills that have gone unpaid.
Pollock admitted in an affidavit: “I was convicted of a crime; my sentence was restitution – no jail time. I made restitution and the matter was closed. I also do have a judgement against me which arose out of a multi-party business deal gone bad, many years ago. When I was hired by DPNY I signed all appropriate releases for a background check.”
Schwartz repeatedly stated in court that “we’re not in court to save Pollock’s job,” but to “save the shelter.” He also expressed concerns that $500,000 raised for the benefit of the women at The Dwelling Place should not be used to fund extravagant legal bills for the FSA. In a financial document presented to the court on July 24, it was shown that the FSA had paid Burri Law $171,957.82 since the closure.
The Dwelling Place opened after four Franciscan Sisters who worked as nurses witnessed the plight of homeless women roaming the Port Authority building on W42nd Street. After receiving permission from their congregation, in 1977, they began to use the former convent of St Clement Mary Hofbauer parish as a transitional shelter for women.
The transitional shelter has served about 3,000 women in its 46 years. On average, residents stayed for six months. The women were served breakfast and dinner and required to be out of the shelter in-between meals for work or to receive help to regain their stability. It also operated as a soup kitchen and food distribution center on Wednesday evenings.
“My time at the Dwelling Place has restored my self-esteem. Not only have I been clothed and fed, not only has the staff made sure I take my medication and go to medical appointments, it has been a place where I feel safe,” said one of the current residents fighting to stay, who submitted an affidavit during the court proceedings. “That sense of safety has done wonders for me mentally and physically. It is a safe haven.”
The next court appearance is scheduled for September 20. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more information about this ongoing story.