Thursday, October 11, 2012

Informational Meeting On Proposed Carroll Gardens Homeless Shelter Set For October 24th


Photo above taken this morning.  Are mattresses already being moved into the proposed shelter?

News that Housing Solutions USA/Aguila Inc., a Bronx-based non-profit organization, intends to submit a proposal to the NYC Department of Homeless Services to house 170 single adults at 165 West 9th Street near Court Street, spread around the neighborhood ever since it has been announced late last week.

On Thursday last week, Community Board 6's office had received a letter from the organization announcing its plan. "The news took us by surprise," Community Board 6 Chairman Daniel Kumer declared last night at the board's monthly meeting.  "At this moment, we don't have any more information."    He added:  "The plan does not require input from CB6, nor from our elected officials. There is no public review. However, we will continue to broadcast about this matter on CB6's website."
In addition, a public informational meeting has been scheduled by CB6 for October 24th at 6:30 PM. The meeting place will be announced as soon as confirmed. Represenatives from both Housing Solutions USA/Aguila Inc. and the Department of Homeless Services have been invited.
"Hopefully, we can replace fear with facts," Daniel Kumer stated.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Brad Lander has issued his own statement on the proposed shelter.
He states:
Safe and decent housing is essential for all of us, and I am glad that New York recognizes a “right to shelter.” I have worked throughout my career to create and preserve affordable housing and to combat homelessness. As a City Councilmember, I hear every week from constituents who are on the brink of losing their apartments and becoming homeless.
The Bloomberg Administration’s homeless policy – eliminating long-standing pathways to affordable housing – has been an abysmal failure. As a result, homelessness is at an-time high, with over 46,000 New Yorkers, tragically including over 19,000 children, sleeping in shelters each night. As I have done dozens of times in recent years, I implore Mayor Bloomberg to restore pathways to permanent housing in NYCHA, Section 8, and other subsidized housing for homeless families. We know the way to reduce homelessness, and it is a scandal that he keeps choosing not to do it.

With homelessness rising due to their policy failure, the Bloomberg Administration has resorted to opening more and more shelters. While no one is excited about a shelter in their community, we all have to do our part. Every neighborhood in New York City, including Carroll Gardens, has a role to play in ensuring that all New Yorkers have somewhere safe to sleep at night.
But homeless shelters need to be sited in locations that make sense. I am very concerned about the proposal from the NYC Department of Homeless Services and Housing Solutions USA for a 170-bed single homeless men’s shelter at 165 West 9th Street, a building that was constructed to be a 10-unit condo building, on a block otherwise made up of three story homes. I do not understand how the proposed shelter could fit responsibly into the building, or how the dramatically increased population would fit into the block and surrounding area.

A local resident probably reflected the community's sentiment best when stating:  "We demand community input before they move 170 people into a sub standard structure built as 10 units... And I implore our Electeds to act as leaders and work with us to find solutions immediately."


Anonymous said...

Is it Oct 14 or 24th?

Katia said...

Just corrected it. It's on the 24th. Will post location as soon as I get info.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like this is a done deal and nothing can be done to stop this at all. Really sad and unfortunate. What can we do?

Anonymous said...

Is there anything that can be done, or is this simply hopeless? Can someone start a petition? Can local businesses start spreading the word? They will be affected even more so than the residents. Your businesses will fail with homeless people taking the place of tax-paying and money spending customers.

Anonymous said...

"we all have to do our part"

1. Start a petition

2. Get rid of Brad Lander

Anonymous said...

jeez this sucks....i mean homeless families would be one thing and...but 170 single adults sounds like a freaking nightmare.
SO there's no community approval needed or anything? If we spread the word to our neighbors to come to this meeting is there even anything that can be done? Will the community be able to speak of have anything to say about this? it seems absurd!

Anonymous said...

As I write this 6:25pm Thursday they are packing in boxes and boxes of bunkbeds. A meeting on the 24th seems excellently timed to be completely after the fact.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a lawyer, but there has to be something that prohibits a shelter from opening so close to a school. Shelters house addicts and sex offenders! If I were a parent at the International School, I would be causing a world war over this. What if there are blatant sex offenders there? The Department of Homeless Services is so lax about this that they are much more concerned with the rights of homeless men over the rights of innocent children. Looks like they are arguing that homeless sex offenders have rights, too. What kind of a city do we live in?

Look at this article:

Everyone is complaining and fearful, but there isn't a clear leader who is rallying against this. What can we do?

Bella said...

I do not understand how this can be happening. How can a building zoned as a 10 family residence be turned into a 170 bed homeless shelter with almost no public notice? According to the C of O there is a maximum of 67 people permitted, and I believe that includes non-residential staff in the (originally proposed) offices in the lobby and on the mezzanine. This is truly an outrage. I would have no problem with a transitional residence for families but this is simply inappropriate for this site.

Michael Reiss said...

Wow is all I have to say. This community is hardly a community if there is not yet one comment to suggest how to integrate the less fortunate into Carroll Gardens. I have had friends go homeless and I worked as an advocate for the homeless while at a facility in Cobble Hill. In fact the facility in Cobble Hill, Baltic Street Mental Health, (at 250 Baltic St., between Court and Clinton) has been there many, many years and has functioned very well. The people there who come to seek housing are mostly unfortunate low-income people who have fallen on hard times, like anyone who isn't fortunate enough to come from a wealthy background or who has the means or the resources to buy property or rent some expensive pad. Or who were born orphans and never had a shot. Or their entire families have died and things didn't work out too well since then - no happy ending. I've seen the sadness of seeing some of my clients denied housing for petty, bureaucratic reasons and having to sleep on the subway or evade the criminality of the NYPD's harassment and having to evade the scorn of many New York residents who do so little to contribute to the homeless issue here in our midst. You complain and you whine and you piss and moan, as Lander does, and you blame it all on Bloomberg, but you don't get down to helping people, your other brothers and sisters in arms in this city, the homeless and the indigent.

The reactions by all of you here show a distinct elitist and shallow, uneducated reaction to your less fortunate fellow New Yorkers. I absolutely think you all should show some empathy and find a way to welcome them to the neighborhood and make it better for everyone. Try to open your hearts, rather than closing them and turning your hearts into useless black lumps. You are all too concerned about yourselves and your perfect, flawless lives to realize that the world is the sum of all of its parts. It is not just thinking about your family's welfare and your own welfare - community implies caring about strangers and anyone who sets foot in our neighborhood, showing an interest because you care, not because you want to find out if they are going to jeopardize some fantasy that Carroll Gardens is or ever was some idyllic urban utopia. Show the compassion and heart that you like to think is in you, that you say is in you when you tell yourself that you're a "good person".

I'm sure that many of you will continue to try to brand the new shelter as a crack den and a magnet for the people you don't care to have around you, the less fortunate and people who have had no good breaks. You will continue to act in clannish and reactive ways, thinking you are preserving something sacred, rather than realizing that your selfish reaction is only making the community worse and more sour, more bitter, more intractably cruel and unyielding. I suppose you haven't noticed them on Court St. and Smith St. all these years. Or in Carroll Park and other parks. Or wandering around and panhandling in your midst, as you take refuge in another big meal or lavish entertainment. Or slipping further from having a life because you all are too concerned with your children's perfect upbringings in this beautiful neighborhood. The lack of charity is horrifying among all of my fellow residents here in Carroll Gardens - it is seeming to confirm the worst qualities coming to dominate situations that could be embraced as opportunities for soulfulness and creativity and miracles, rather than your fearful, divisive, protective tactics.

Michael Reiss said...

There are services and opportunities all over the city, including in Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights, places like Catholic Charities, Baltic Street AEH in Cobble Hill, many outreaches and other useful institutions. And the communities that accept this and the need for outreach are made better for having been tolerant and open-hearted.

If this is your response to this occasion, to having an opportunity to help the downtrodden, you'll always be tied in knots over every little thing. Try being charitable, try offering to make the shelter nicer by donating some things you don't use to the shelter, maybe prepare to volunteer so you can be involved. Your reactions are symbolic of frightened, small-minded, selfish people who protect their own interests first, rather than finding a way to be accommodating.

I've lived in Carroll Gardens for over a decade and I've seen traces of this lack of caring even before the wave of newcomers that have been so heavily criticized for changing the dynamics of the neighborhood. There are many, many people who live here in CG who act pleasant and hospitable but never really go the extra mile for anyone ultimately - and your reactions to the imminent opening of this homeless shelter, on the absolute periphery of Carroll Gardens, shows how small your hearts really are. I hope you find a way to accept this and to let your hearts open to merge with the rest of the NYC community, which includes everyone. Everyone.

Anonymous said...

At Michael Reiss:

It seems obvious that you live nowhere near "the absolute periphery of Carroll Gardens" as you call it.
This is no "idyllic urban utopia" here (2 methadone clinics and the shady deals at smith 9th street), the area is already doing more than it's share.
Pretty sure you wouldn't preaching this if you had kids growing up a block away from this.

Anonymous said...

"On the absolute periphery" does that make it okay? I live on the "absolute periphery" and I love it here. I resent being painted as someone whose heart is a "useless black lump" because I think it is wrong for the city to open a 170 bed homeless facility in my backyard. Yes, in my backyard as the yard of my building literally abuts the new shelter location. Guess what? I'd be angry if there were 170 people in general, regardless of whether they're homeless or not, being housed in that building. It wasn't built for that many people. And, as a social worker, I am well aware of the many reasons people find themselves homeless, often through no fault of their own. But does that change the fact that that homeless facilities often bring problems to a neighborhood? Should I feel selfish because I want the cleanest, safest, neighborhood possible for myself and my family? No. I am not angry at the men moving in, but I am angry at Mayor Bloomberg and the city for not providing better housing options for the homeless. Do I agree that everyone deserves to be housed with dignity? You bet. But guess what? I don't find a ton of dignity in 170 grown men being shoved together like sardines in a building built to serve one third as many people.

Michael Reiss said...

You guys are still complaining and not proposing solutions. If you want to complain then you should also propose an alternative. As I mentioned, I worked as an advocate at Baltic St. AEH and I did most of the dirty work that the social workers there didn't make time for, like housing, food stamps, rebuilding their lives with job skill and job hunting, etc. The homeless people were more gracious and more generous and humble than some of the cold, black-hearted words I've read here. As if they are all going to be potential pedophiles just by virtue of being homeless. Typically fearful reaction. People who have good homes are probably just as likely to commit crimes as those who have homes, statistically. But, clearly, you can't go after the well-sheltered, can you? That seems to be something that can't be controlled. Instead, the fear leads you to go after the under-represented and the outcasts, sending them further out into orbit.

It's all nit-picking, just the way that someone in this thread took offense to being "in the periphery", as if anyone looks down upon 9th Street. When people stop making assumptions and give up being highly insecure and far too sensitive, maybe you'll see the real issue is solving homelessness, not keeping the community "pure".

Most parents watch their kids when they're playing out on the street anyway. And what about all of the rapes that occurred in this part of Brooklyn last year without a homeless shelter here in CG? Obviously, there is little correlation between homelessness and crime, but people love to stigmatize and blame those who have no voice, no representation. Look at how Bloomberg and so many politicians operate. Demented lack of reaching out.

This is NYC and there is crime in every city. Do something about it. Go to the monthly community meeting at the 76th precinct, go to the monthly Community Board meeting at 250 Baltic Street, start something productive. But don't sit back in the comfort of your home and tell other people to clear out if they don't fit your judgement of how a person should be and judge them if they are homeless or down on their luck. That's discriminatory and ugly, brutal and insensitive.

I have a son, by the way - and when he was younger, I made sure he was safe when I was with him in Los Angeles, in Boston, and in New York. If you can take care of your kids properly, which I'm going to assume you can, there's no issue there. I've worked in the field, as I said - some of the talk here is like someone who is scared, paranoid, and a little neurotic.

This is what has been happening when a neighborhood is perceived as "exclusive" or "popular" - people begin to act like they own it and they try to keep anyone or anything out that doesn't meet their wishes. It's the height of arrogance and closed-mindedness.

Compassion and understanding can be taught. And so can giving up complaining and focusing on solutions. I'd like to hear solutions, rather than making wind that amounts to sending the unfortunate to the subway tunnels, Siberia, anywhere but your perception of Carroll Gardens as an all-too-special and sacred community. Open your heart. The homeless in this city are in a terrible bind thanks to decades of political neglect and community scorn from all over. They are a test for us all. And it's not an easy test for some people - it's truly a measure of the grace or lack of grace in your Heart. It really is.

Jocelyn said...

Wow, Michael. Talk about nit-picking. Did you actually read the comments following yours? You stated that someone complained about the neighborhood being called the "absolute periphery". That wasn't a complaint, that was simply using your words. You described the location as the "absolute periphery" as if that should make a difference in people's perceptions of the shelter placement. And as for the social workers who "didn't make time", that's another nit-pick and another dig. As a social worker I spent countless hours advocating for clients and helped dozens apply for supportive housing, a much better alternative. You assume your neighbors are black-hearted because we don't want 170 people crammed into a too small space. That's quite a black-hearted assumption. I think 170 grown men in a space intended for 10 families (or singles, as some of the units were built as studios) is wrong. The facility can't support that population. And what about the poster who did offer a solution? You conveniently ignore that. This building could make a wonderful site for supportive housing. How about we house 10 families with dignity so that their children can benefit from the excellent public schools around here? How about we limit it to 30 or 40 adults and offer supportive services. I'm talking about doing something meaningful rather than just a temporary roof over their heads with no meaningful change. You seem to understand that the city government has not done enough to help homelessness, you should further understand that shoving 170 adults into a building intended for 40 or 50 people is nothing more than a bureaucratic band-aid. Maybe it is you who need more insight and compassion.

Michael Reiss said...

Those are damn good ideas, Jocelyn. Except the haughty sarcasm you aimed at me is misdirected - I'm not a proponent of jamming them all in there. That is absolutely too many people in one place.

Again, direct your indignation to Brad Lander, Mikey Bloomberg, Marty "Fuhgeddaboudit" Markowitz, Steve Levin, or someone who can effect changes or is responsible for this. I've provided some good input on this and I'll point out the crap also - I'm not opposed to complaining; I'm opposed to those who complain without adding additional possible solutions after their complaints.

Isaac Kashanian said...

@ Michael Reiss,

You seem to have an inordinate amount of time on your hands, crafting these well thought out yet terribly misguided comments vilifying people who are appropriately concerned regarding the specter of 170 homeless people moving into their backyards virtually overnight. The unfortunate reality is that a shelter of this magnitude crammed into an area that has 2 methadone clinics within spitting distance is poor planning at its best and a downright crime at its worst. This shelter will literally rob people who have paid very high prices for their homes, it will add more crime to an already tenuous area and it will be felt dramatically by the tax payers who made this RESIDENTIAL neighborhood what it is today.

Shelters dont belong in dense, expensive residential areas. There are MILLIONS of sf of vacant warehouse space that would be a much more appropriate solution for these individuals. First, it's cheaper. Donation/tax dollars would go farther converting dead warehouse space that is currently encumbered by archaic zoning regulations. Average rental prices in the neighborhood hover between 35-60 dollars psf. Warehouse space is 8-12 dollars psf. There are SO MANY of these buildings in areas that would not raise the hackles of someone who paid 7-900 PDF for a home NOT NEXT to a homeless shelter. Whether you care to admit it or not, this population has a higher ratio of drug addicts, convicted felons etc. I agree that everyone deserves a chance, but not at the expense of others safety and well being. Office dense neighborhoods are a better solution. Warehouse dense areas are a better solution. 1 block from 2 million dollar residential brownstones is not.

Anonymous said...

"How about we house 10 families with dignity so that their children can benefit from the excellent public schools around here?"

The best thing i've heard on this topic in 2 weeks! Bravo! There's someone offering the smart solution Michael is insisting upon.

Michael Reiss said...

Isaac, it sounds like you're terribly worried about the price of someone's real estate and would rather the homeless be housed in a warehouse somewhere far from people's precious brownstones. Maybe we can find them someplace away from everyone else in the community who might be a good influence on them, you seem to be suggesting? Keep them away from good decent people who have earned the right to be "safe" (away from junkies and low-income types) and keep the value of the real estate flush and rising. I think that is the summation of your entry.

Isaac, that is more of the same stone-cold obstructionism. You insult the homeless people by saying things like that and there is no spirit of reconstruction or healing in your statements. It's very cerebral, calculating, and focused on the bottom-line. There are many good reasons to integrate the unfortunate into a decent neighborhood and not to simply shoot them off into a warehouse on the edge of town simply because it is cheaper.

To address your feeling that I have made far too many comments here and that you think I "have a lot of time on my hands": I worked as an advocate for the mentally ill and the homeless (as I mentioned before) and I believe very much in changing one's heart to make sure that it actually happens, rather than letting an avalanche of bureaucratic red-tape drown the solutions and keep others from the housing that is their legal right to have in New York City. The arguments you make, Isaac, are old, tired arguments and they are the same arguments the city makes that slows down the process as the homeless remain stuck on the street, in other more dangerous shelters, and lose precious time they need to begin rebuilding their lives. I don't think your concern about the value of your brownstone should be taken seriously.

Isaac, you're clearly the voice of someone who has priorities in real-estate value, rather than the needs of the less fortunate. I have time for many things - and especially people in need. If you want to continue to belly-ache about the value of your brownstone, you'll miss the entire point of Charity and Good Will, Sacrifice and Heart.

Isaac Kashanian said...


You said a lot, and I am going to do my best to address your reply in a concise and polite manner. Let me preface my reply by saying I think you are a good person at heart and you seem to truly care about this population. If there were more people like you, the world would be a better place. I mean that, wholeheartedly. At the same time you seem to be putting the needs of one segment above anothers. That just isnt fair.

With that said, there are some serious flaws with your logic and your analysis of my points and proposal. I am not "worried about the price of someones real estate", although if that WAS my sole concern it would still be valid. We live in a capitalist market economy, not a socialist utopia which seems like the type of world you would be most comfortable in. The reason that NYC is such a great place to live is partially because of diversity and the amount of money that is centered here. That money turns into tax dollars that make social services possible in the first place. If you start to chip away at that base, then tax dollars eventually dry up and there is no more money to provide these valuable social services. Youre a smart guy, Im sure you understand that. I am not implying that this population should be carted off to no mans land. I am suggesting that warehouses are cheaper, therefore MORE people can be helped with LESS money. And they can still stay in the neighborhood. Why not go one long block south over to 2nd avenue where there are roughly 30 empty buildings in a 5 square block radius? With the money that Aguila will be paying here (average of $2500 per unit), they could house 5 times as many people using an economy of scale. Our tax dollars and peoples generous donations are what make these shelters possible. Shouldnt the people who spend that money be good stewards of it and use it in the most efficient way possible, while at the same time respecting the FACT that it will put some people who may have worked there entire lives to own a home under water? Many people purchase property with a 10% down payment. It is FACT that their equity will be reduced by a factor of 3 over that 10% with the addition of this shelter. You know, it may sound callous to you but its true. Someone who worked hard their entire life to buy a beautiful home HAS earned the "right to be safe" and not live NEXT DOOR to a shelter housing criminals, drug addicts and people who have not contributed to society in a meaningful way. It may sound harsh, but its true. I am not saying these people dont deserve help. I AM saying that this help shouldnt be at the expense of other peoples sense of safety and well being.

You say my concerns should "not be taken seriously". Well, I say that YOURS should not be taken seriously. Hows that? The beauty of this country is our ability to disagree. While I think we all deep down have the same ends in mind, there are many roads that could lead there. I dont think that 170 Men belong on this block. 10 families of four and I wouldnt have said a word. In fact I would probably donate. If you lived on Garnett, or Huntington or Luquer and you had a 6 year old daughter you would be singing a different tune my friend. If not, youre just nuts. Or you just enjoy being a contrarian. Whatever the case may be, my "values" are not up for discussion. I know who I am. I'm a good person and I help those less fortunate than myself regularly, in my own way. You being an "advocate" for the homeless doesnt give you the moral authority to judge anyone or their reasons for disagreeing with your agenda. I am not "belly-aching". I am making valid points that 99 out of 100 people would agree with. By the way, look up Aguila. NYC corruption at its finest. Virtually no public notice, building permits, certificate of occupancy, and a director and building owner connected to local government. Interesting.

Michael Reiss said...

This should still be about how to make sure every segment of society is addressed and served. It is about showing REAL CHARITY and not just worrying so much about so many of the "white people problems". Most of the people who own brownstones nowadays, from my observations, came from nice families and had every opportunity to get to their ivory tower. I also was able to get the education I wanted and find opportunities. But I'm not trying to translate my education into a cash-cow. That's not the point of life for me. The OWS movement from last year, showed that the desire for something other than a large bank account is very deep-seated among many, many people.

As far as Aguila being corrupt - that's too bad and it's a shame. But how much corruption are we cursed with in our city and in our history? The MTA is corrupt. The Port Authority is corrupt. Barclay's bank that bought the naming rights of the new arena is corrupt and was implicated in the LIBOR scandal from earlier this year. Bloomberg is corrupt and callous. The DOH is corrupt. HRA is corrupt. Vito Lopez is corrupt. Bush, Cheney, and their cronies were corrupt. Nixon was corrupt. LBJ was corrupt. Tammany Hall was corrupt. Mayor Jimmy Walker & Boss Tweed. Robert Moses, the King of Corruption. Most of the Brooklyn political machinery is corrupt and so are the judges and the lawyers and almost every level of every city agency. And that's not even much of an exaggeration.

This is the filth we deal with on a regular basis every day. How come no one really fights the MTA? Probably because they're immensely powerful and have the compliance and the complicity of the mayor and many city council members and so on. There's so much corruption it becomes commonplace and almost boring to hear about.

Isaac, when I said your concerns "should not be taken seriously" I was referring to your concerns about your real estate's value, which you mentioned in one of your posts. So please don't take it out of context - your concerns about your daughter are indeed valid and serious.

Do you think people who live in projects worry about their daughters? They do indeed. Everyone has their own set of concerns. I live in a building with a landlady who has deteriorated into a slumlord and a loose cannon (on 2nd Place) but I adapted. I made adjustments. And now I'm moving because of her, as much as I would have liked to stay here.

I suppose we will all show up at the meeting on October 24th and hash it out. I'm sure it will get heated and it will be passionate. I only ask anyone who goes to try to see beyond the realm of the usual reactions and the usual suspects and reach a solution that makes everyone happy, some sort of consensus.