Petition for Change: Reclaim most-needed Mental Health Services

This video above, filmed in January 2019 and featured in the petition explains the wrongful eviction of Growth and Development Services (GDS), as well as the mismanagement of The NYC Fort Washington Armory, a city-owned building that was designed and created to be a community center for the benefit of the community and its members. In the summer of 2019, GDS and its youth participants were locked out of their community space. The wrongful eviction was coordinated by the Armory Foundation, Mayor Bill de Blasio Steven Banks from Human Resources Administration (HRA)/Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and public officials.

From 2002-2019, The Fort Washington Avenue Armory was home to GDS, which provides mental health, youth development, and intergenerational programs for marginalized youth and their families. In March of 2019, Dr. Gary Altheim GDS Founder and Executive Director was interviewed on WNYC, The Brian Lehrer radio show talking to Mayor de Blasio. The Mayor promised to look into it and then two days later GDS's mental health services were wrongfully evicted. Click here to listen to the show and Mayor de Blasio's willful blindness.

Having observed how the Armory Foundation routinely denied youth access to the Armory services, GDS representatives began to research the public facility’s actual ownership. When GDS launched a public campaign against the underutilization of this public space, the Armory Foundation and the City of New York City evicted GDS from its 17-year home at the Armory.

Please SIGN THIS PETITION to help advocate for mental health services and equal access to essential programs and the utilization of public space. The mismanagement of the NYC Fort Washington Armory at 168th Street, a 2-acre city-owned building, is an example of social injustice and profit over people. 

To Read more about this example of systemic injustice, go to the Petition

Learn About the Story

March 15, 2021 

Washington Heights Armory on Defense Over Who Gets to Use Space 

By Rachel Holliday Smith 


This article calls into question the usage of the Fort Washington Avenue Armory, a city owned building that was originally meant to be a community center. The investigative reporter points out the profited events taking place in the Fort Washington Avenue Armory, as marketed on their website, including fashion shows, film shoots and weddings. This article also exposed an ongoing 2018 lawsuit from Growth and Development Services (GDS) — a group that claims it was wrongly evicted from the space — says the Foundation failed to pay as much as $412,000 in taxes on income it earned from event rentals.



March 29, 2019

The Brian Lehrer Show

Featuring Mayor De Blasio and Dr. Gary Altheim



This audio recording is GDS’ founder, Dr. Gary Altheim, speaking to Mayor De Blasio about the wrongful eviction and mismanagement of the NYC Fort Washington Armory. During the interview mayor De Blasio asserts the importance of mental health services and says he will look into the matter. After this call a representative from the Mayor's office called and informed Dr. Gary that GDS needs to leave the building, under false pretence, immediately.

March 27, 2019

Angst at the Armory; Looming eviction reignites community concerns

By Sherry Mazzocchi

Manhattan Times


This article describes the looming eviction of GDS. A few days after this article was published GDS was evicted by the Department of Homeless Services.

December 29, 2018 

Washington Heights residents denounce lack of access to 'The Armory'


October 31, 2014 

Uptown community groups slam Washington Heights Armory for Charging Big Bucks to use Facility  

By Jan Ransom

New York Daily News


This article describes the Armory Foundation management of this 250,000 square foot, city owned building on Fort Washington Avenue. Nonprofit organizations expose the foundation charging them tens of thousands of dollars to use the facility.

October 30,2014

Nonprofit Groups Say They’re Being Priced out of the Ft. Washington Armory 

By Lindsay Armstrong 

DNA info


This article explains the privatization of the NYC Fort Washington Armory. Several community members and non profits, providing free or low cost services to the community, were being forced out due to increased “donation” fees. All the while, private organizations rent out the space for profit. According to the Armory Foundation’s available tax records from 2012, the venue took in about $2.75 million from program revenue, with $981,006 of that coming from special events held at the Armory.