Crown Heights community rallies against planned shelter
by Patrick Kearns
Apr 06, 2017 | 711 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Crown Heights residents are protesting new plan to address the city’s homeless crisis, which includes building a new shelter at 267 Rogers Avenue.

According to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the site would be a transitional housing facility serving 132 homeless families with children.

DHS is currently targeting a May opening for the facility.

“What we want to see is permanent, low-income housing for our residents,” said Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo last week. “We recognize that the vast majority of people in our homeless shelters are working people. They have jobs, they have families.

“But we shouldn’t just cycle them into a shelter for six to 12 months and we have no understanding of where they go after that,” she added.

Cumbo backed the concept of keeping people in their communities, but noted that low-income housing is a much better way to do it.

“If we don’t build low-income housing, we will never find a solution to the homeless crisis in our community,” she said.

Dion Ashman, president of the Crown Street Block Association, has led the charge to educate and inform residents of what the potential shelter would mean for his neighbors. He’s also in support of low-income housing.

“We want something that people could be here for permanently,” he said. “They need to have a vested and invested interest in this neighborhood.”

Dr. Yvonne Reid, a longtime Crown Heights resident and former principal of PS 397 on Fenimore Street, said her biggest concern is for the children of the neighborhood.

“As a principal, I had youngsters who lived in shelters,” she said. “They were there for six months, then they were moved to the Bronx, then the next year they came back. Why not have a place for these families to be here permanently so their children’s education is not impacted negatively?”

A group of Crown Heights residents have already sued and been granted a temporary restraining order over a facility that was supposed to house 90 homeless men on Bergen Street.

“Our community is oversaturated,” Cumbo said. “Everyone is not pulling their weight in terms of addressing the homeless crisis in New York City.”

But according to DHS spokesperson Isaac McGuinn, the city is actually closing a number of shelters in the community.

“As we implement our plan for addressing homelessness citywide, we are ending the use of 16 sites in this community while opening one new facility, meaning this community will go from having 19 facilities at the start of this year down to four,” he said.

On April 6, elected officials and representatives from DHS will host a town hall on the shelter from 6 to 8 p.m. at PS 161 at 330 Crown Street.

“This administration is deeply committed to an open community notification process,” said McGuinn. “We encourage all communities to join us at the table as we move forward.”
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