No ‘assistance’ in this assisted living facility at The W in Riverdale


Judging by the resistance and protests by many greater Riverdale residents to the proposed men’s homeless shelter on Broadway and claims the Overlook Manhattan College dorm may become another shelter, it would seem such people are not welcome here. And that’s a shame.

At the same time, it’s ironic there is no movement against the residents at The W Assisted Living at Riverdale Home for Adults. Many of the 250 residents there have to put up with tough living conditions that likely force many to wander Broadway and adjacent streets panhandling, looking for food and activities to fight excessive boredom.

Mice and roaches crawl everywhere inside the 6355 Broadway facility, at least according to one resident. The elevators are often broken, and the food is not nutritious.

In fact, many of the residents make their way over to the Friendly Fridge on West 242nd Street and Broadway to get free food that includes vegetables and fruit.

Even some employees there have complained about the living conditions. One told The Riverdale Press the place is not clean because there are not enough porters. Another employee described the food at The W as “crappy.” They said it includes boiled chicken, chicken curry, chicken nuggets and frozen pancakes.

“There is never enough milk,” they said.

A May 2022 review of The W on the website by a family member of a prospective resident describes his apprehensions:

“I went and visited The W Assisted Living at Riverdale. People were just roaming everywhere. As I was speaking with the people there, it’s like, ‘This is not a real assisted living place.’ The people there come and go any time, all the time. No security. People can leave and come back in 90 days and still have a spot. It was just a little bit too free.

People were hanging out in the hallways almost everywhere. That’s no good. I don’t think it was safe enough for my mother to be there. The living areas were fine. They were good and clean. The staff was on each quarter cleaning. The rooms were nice, roomy, and safe.

“They have a little outside area where people could sit outside and exercise. There was just too much freedom around like people walking around everywhere and anywhere.”

On a typical day, about a dozen or so residents hang out in front of The W smoking, resting on their walkers dressed in shorts and pajamas, no matter the season. The residents are not to blame since there doesn’t seem to be any structured recreational activities for them, according to residents.

What’s interesting about this situation is the community reaction. While there has been much vitriol over a proposed homeless shelter and simply the rumor of one, there is nary a reaction to the wayward residents at The W.

The difference is The W is an assisted living facility that costs residents at least $1,300 per month for a shared room, while the proposed homeless shelter residents are guaranteed three meals a day and a bed to sleep in. If and when the men’s Broadway shelter is built by Westhab, it will be a “purpose-built” facility meant to transition its residents back into the community.

In New York state, the assisted living program pays for many services to qualified recipients in licensed assisted facilities. Those include living care services, and room and board.

However, some assisted living residences offer other services that are not covered by the program. They include case management — since many of the residents receive Medicaid — adult day health care, housekeeping, home health aides, medical supplies, skilled nursing, occupational therapy, recreational activities, and personal emergency response services.

Alas, The W doesn’t seem to offer those additional benefits based on the conditions of the facility and the transiency of the residents as they wander the streets. And when you consider many of the residents suffer from mental health illness that goes untreated, it’s understandable to ask more be done for them.

When asked to comment on the complaints, The W management issued the following statement: “We care deeply for the residents in our facility — many of whom suffer a variety of challenges — and are committed to operating a safe facility for them and surrounding community.

“W Group has invested considerable resources to upgrade the facility since taking over (in 2016). We are committed to resolving issues in collaboration with input from residents and the community.”

Well, it’s time for the community to share that input. Let’s have a town hall with management to address the issues surrounding these North Riverdale residents who need our support.

The W Assisted Living at Riverdale Home for Adults, 6355 Broadway, Friendly Fridge, West 242nd Street, homeless shelter