A real estate developer on the Upper West Side wants to turn an indoor public space into a private retail outlet, arguing that it’s full of homeless people right now.

In 1985, Ashkenazy Acquisitions were given permission to build air rights at Bel-Canto condo after they agreed to dedicate a 1600-square-foot atrium for public use. Now they’re seeking permission from Community Board 7 to repurpose that space for profit, arguing thatthe presence of homeless people somehow means that space isn’t being used properly.

“Homeless people actually inhabit the earth and they have to be somewhere,” CB7 member Richard Asche tells DNAinfo. “We didn’t view that as a reason for eliminating the space.”

As rents continually rise in NYC, a new report shows that homeless families have increased by 13% since Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken office. That carries over a trend beginning with the Bloomberg administration which saw the number of homeless families grow by 73%. With job growth primarily coming from low-paying service industry gigs that don’t provide a living wage, developers can expect homelessness to continue, and they’ll need a place to go.

(Photo: Turnstile Hopper)