After nearly two years of deliberation and community backlash it seems that Greenpoint is on the verge of hosting a brand new homeless men’s assessment shelter on McGuinness Boulevard.
The Bowery Resident’s Committee (BRC), which will operate the facility, has begun advertising upcoming career day events on Craigslist, to fill several positions, including Assessment Specialists, Registered Nurse, Nurse Practitioners and Maintenance Supervisors. The ad states that the shelter is “scheduled to open at the beginning of September in Greenpoint.”
“The program is moving ahead as it always has been very openly and transparently, open through the procurement process and the hiring process,” said Muzzy Rosenblatt, the Executive Director of the BRC. “It’s been moving ahead as it’s been openly communicated to the community and we’re looking forward to running a great program.”
The shelter has been a point of contention since it was first proposed in 2010. It was originally going to be operated by HELP USA, a non-profit organization run by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, until HELP withdrew their application in February 2011, citing an inability to reach an agreement with the Department of Homeless Services on a budget for the center. A month later, BRC, which operates 27 programs for individuals in need, submitted a proposal for its own shelter in the same location on 400 McGuinness Boulevard. Despite having a new caretaker, local politicians and residents fought back, voicing concerns that the shelter would not adequately address the homeless population in the immediate neighborhood.
Indeed, Rosenblatt said that most shelters in the City for single adults and families are part of a citywide system and none of them are community-based service models. This means the shelter could seemingly be accepting homeless men from all over the city.
According to recent statistics issued by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), of the 3,262 homeless individuals in New York City, 368 of them are in Brooklyn.
Local politicians, including Assemblyman Joe Lentol and Councilmember Stephen Levin, have long been opposed to the shelter and indicated that they would continue to resist its opening.
“I’m not going to rest until we resolve this,” said Lentol. “We have a meeting in July [with DHS], hopefully that’s not too late. We have to redouble our efforts to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
A group of local residents and businesses have taken matters into their own hands. Calling themselves the Greenpoint Neighborhood Coalition, they have hired an attorney, Andrew Stern of Tane Waterman & Wurtzel to litigate the issue in hopes of blocking the shelter from opening. Jeffrey Sitomer, a member of the coalition, said he is mostly concerned that the shelter would bring another unwanted facility to a neighborhood already shouldering waste treatment and trash distribution sites.
“[The shelter] is compounding the problem. Greenpoint already has its fair share of public facilities that aren’t the most pleasant for the neighborhood,” said Sitomer.
Details on the opening of the facility and the building itself are scarce and calls placed to the DHS were not returned. Specific dates for the upcoming career day events are not yet determined.