More storm over shelter as residents protest homeless center on McGuinness

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Here they go again.

Greenpoint residents could were feeling déjà vu on Tuesday night as they found themselves lambasting yet another proposal for a 200-bed men’s shelter on McGuinness Boulevard — the second such proposal in eight months.

“I was hoping I wouldn’t be back here this soon,” Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) told Community Board 1. “My position has not changed — 400 McGuinness Blvd. is not an appropriate place for a [homeless] center.”

The latest plan is being shepherded by the Manhattan-based Bowery Residents’ Committee, which wants to turn the four-story industrial warehouse at Clay Street into a transitional housing center for homeless men suffering from substance abuse and mental illness.

Bowery’s Executive Director Muzzy Rosenblatt defended his plan before more than 150 Greenpoint residents at the hearing, saying it would be the “best assessment center in New York City.”

But one man said that the only shelter that the neighborhood needs is for residents being priced out.

“I wish we didn’t need any shelters,” said Rosenblatt. “I’d would love to build more housing, but the city has a legal and moral responsibility it has embraced.”

Speaker after speaker pummeled the proposal and questioned its far-flung location at the very tip of Greenpoint.

“Putting your facility in the middle of all that will deteriorate that community in that area,” said Christine Holowacz, a Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee member. “We don’t need a big shelter where you’re going to bus people here from other places.”

Other residents pointed to existing three-quarter houses on Manahttan Avenue where drugs are traded that could attract recovering addicts seeking treatment at the shelter.

“You’re giving them a drug source,” said one McGuinness Boulevard resident, who declined to give her name. “If you wanted to help them, put them somewhere not so close from a site where people are struggling too.”

A Department of Homeless Services official defended the location, where it has been hoping to put a shelter since last fall, as a necessary component of its overall plan to add eight new shelters throughout the city.

“We as the city need to purchase services — we’re going to go through a contractual obligation with this provider,” said agency Deputy Commissioner George Nashak.

The city has not set a timeline for approving Bowery Residents’ Committee as the site’s operator, and Bowery must still sign a lease with the building’s new owner, Shimie Horn. But a government source said that the Department of Homeless Services is adamant at locating a shelter of some type at that location.

Residents who live on that block, such as Alicia Mountain, are considering moving.

“I’d be worried about the heavy volume of men staying for a short period of time who are not invested in this neighborho­od,” said Mountain.

Updated 5:23 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

al pankin from downtown says:
for what the city is going to spend on shelters they could buy condo's in florida...then the residents could enjoy a nice sunny, warm climate and spend there hours on the beach, this would cost the taxpayers who foot the bill alot less, even with transportation...2.8 million people have relocated to Florida in the past ten years...this would be a good thing.

April 6, 2011, 5:48 am
Hasley from Brooklyn says:
Yeah - deport the homeless jack offs - we don't want you!
April 6, 2011, 6:20 am
Homeless from Greenpoint says:
This shelter is far from any meaningful residential neighborhood, in the middle of an industrial park, and on the BQE. Why does anyone care? This building will provide services to the city's unfortunate and this is far from a desirable location.
April 6, 2011, 8:53 am
Christian from Greenpoint says:
@Homeless from Greenpoint:

This site is NOT on the BQE! The BQE is a MILE SOUTH!

The location is adjacent to a VERY residential area, as well as at the foot of a bridge that MANY Greenpoint residents use to get to the 7-train.
April 6, 2011, 9:07 am
Homeless from Greenpoint says:
Sorry, I meant the LIE (Not BQE). The area immediately around this building is primarily industrial. The start of the Pulaski Bridge partially blocks the building's view from the residential neighborhoods, and acts as a barrier separating the industrial parks from the rest of Greenpoint.

If a not-for-profit wants to lease this to do some good for those who need it, I'm all for it. We can't have every homeless shelter in Bed Stuy.
April 6, 2011, 9:14 am
John from Greenpoint says:
@Homeless. I agree. We live in a society. These people need help. There are over a hundred homeless shelters in NYC. If Greenpoint has to have one, I would prefer it to be on this side of the bridge.
April 6, 2011, 9:26 am
Homeless from Greenpoint says:
PS: I live 2 blocks from a men's shelter. Yes, they look shady. After all, they are all men with serious problems. In the 7 years I've lived here, I have never heard of any crime resulting from people at that shelter.
April 6, 2011, 9:38 am
ms nomer from greenpoint says:
This building is in the Industrialized Business Zone. The community fought like hell during the rezoning to get the city's commitment to continue supporting and developing our local businesses. Allowing this kind of use opens the door to other non-industrial/manufacturing business uses, which concerns me. We've already lost a lot of businesses because of residential development, which has negatively affected remaining businesses who supplied or otherwise catered to them, and they hired local people who had to look for new work.

The IBZ at least drew a line. Keep the IBZ buildings for local business development! The city should keep its commitment to the IBZ and our business community.
April 6, 2011, 11:16 am
yoda from Greenpoint says:
There is already 400 beds for homeless on the same street between the greenpoint hotel and a 3/4 way house, Also DHS will give a subway of bus ticket to transport the 200 individuals to Greenpoint meaning that individual will be walking all over the neighborhood lookng for the shelter - (either over the bridge or from the Grenpoint subway system). - Even if it is a partial industrial/residentia area, it is not a suitable location - Lack of facilities, transportation etc.
April 6, 2011, 11:59 am
galway from greenpoint says:
Please stay updated on this topic by joining Community Board 1,

Councilmember Stephen Levin website,, who is opposed to this shelter.

Ms. Heather
Facebook - Keep Moving Greenpoint Forward.

Please support the children and families living next to these shelters, this is one too many.
April 6, 2011, 12:29 pm
Gary from Greenpoint says:
@ms nomer from Greenpoint. The building is currently a residential building, so this is not a loss of industrial space for local businesses. If you recall, there was a fight with one tenant who had refused to leave his apartment at this specific property.
April 6, 2011, 12:43 pm
Gary from Greenpoint says:

The Greenpoint Hotel is technically not a homeless shelter, but I get your point. Honestly, I would rather have the homeless going into 400 McGuinness than the people in the Greenpoint Hotel.

There are 20,000 beds under contract by DHS for homeless. 400 beds in Greenpoint (which is double the actual number according to my research) is nothing.

If all of you don't like a homeless shelter in your neighborhood, you should reconsider living in an urban location.
April 6, 2011, 12:47 pm
Anna Martina from Bed Stuy says:
The homeless and poor deserve a place to go! Stop hampering the City's efforts to providing them a safe place to sleep! It's a basic human right.
April 6, 2011, 12:52 pm
Rafika from Williamsburg says:
Galway, thanks for that information. Since I am pro-homeless housing and services, I have used your information to push for the opening of this facility.
April 6, 2011, 1:48 pm
John from Williamsburg says:
Rafika, I've also contacted the parties and advised that they open the facility in that building 1/2 a block down from your place. Since you're such an advocate, I knew you wouldn't mind, thanks...
April 6, 2011, 4:27 pm
ms nomer from greenpoint says:
Everyone should definitely reach out to Brooklyn Community Board 1 - Go to meetings, get involved. They don't have much of an email presence or even a Facebook page, but there's some dialogue over at this unofficial Yahoo Group and you might like to join and meet other community members there too. Check out the links to other groups.

Also the 94th Precinct has Community Council meetings every month:
April 6, 2011, 5:40 pm
Rafika from Williamsburg says:
Honestly, most of you probably already live near a homeless shelter and don't realize it. There are hundreds of buildings devoted to homeless shelters across the city. Then, there are scattered homeless units across the city. This is where the city rents a few apartments in a regular apartment building and puts homeless people in there.

Why are you all so prejudiced against homeless people? They need this shelter more than you want not to look at the disadvantaged.
April 7, 2011, 10:22 am
Peter Griffin from Pawtucket says:
I thought Rudy had secretly killed all the homeless while he was mayor?!?
April 7, 2011, 10:27 am
gary from greenpoint says:
This shelter will NOT accept Greenpoint/Williamsburg homeless, the only way to get into this shelter is to be admitted from Bellevue Hospital, we need a homeless shleter for OUR HOMELESS not Manhattan exporting their homeless to the outer boroughs. Come to the meeting and demand a shelter for the Polish Homeless in Greenpoint. Manhattan is just getting too disneyland for the rich! If you attend the meetings you see this replaces a Bowery homeless shelter because the Bowery has Ian Schraeger Hotels and restaurants so they cant have homeless. Take care of Greenpoint Homeless not Manhattan homeless!
April 7, 2011, 11:33 am
barry from greenpoint says:
If you attended the meeting and learned all the facts you would have heard from a resident of the 3/4 house and a former resident of the Bowery Residences and learned that these shelters are so poorly run that they only contributed to his drug addiction, even he was against the shelter anbd he lives in shelters. He wants homeless services to stop opening horribly run shelters and get their act together to really help. This organization, BRC makes $400k a year on the homeless, these shelters should not be FOR PROFIT centers, this is an outsourced shelter not run and owned by the city! LEARN THE FACTS do some research on the details of this proposal! These guys r profiteers! being paid with your tax dollars.
April 7, 2011, 11:43 am
Joe Joe from Greenpoint says:
@Barry. The City is required by law to provide homeless services per the State constitution. If it weren't for these profiteers ($400M is not a large profit for a company its size), the City would be running it themselves using your tax dollars. Either way, you're paying for it. Knowing the City, the cost would probably be higher than these outsource firms.

Also, I would like to mention that most of the outsourcing firms are not-for-profits. I am not familiar with BRC though and its tax status.
April 7, 2011, 12:43 pm
Homer Simpson from Greenpoint says:
You guys don't get it. You are arguing against a building that provides a HOME to the HOMELESS. Are you against soup kitchens, health clinics, and other social services in your neighborhood too?
April 7, 2011, 12:47 pm
barry from greenpoint says:
Not at all, everyone at the meeting supports the opening of a shelter for Greenpoint Homeless, we have been asking the city for a shelter for OUR community, we dont support the export of Manhattan Homeless to Greenpoint, it will just add to the problems our homeless have already. Let Manhattan open a shelter for their homeless, this shelter will not accept a Greenpoint Homeless person who knocks on the door, they will have to go to Bellevue in Manhattan to get admitted to 400 McGuinness. Thats not a community shelter. Also this shelter is for a maximum of 30 days, so anyone who is assigned there must leave in 30 days its a revolving door in our community, not helpful to us or them.
April 7, 2011, 1:24 pm
Joe Joe from Greenpoint says:

Do you realistically expect the City to set up neighborhood specific homeless shelters? That's ridiculous and not cost effective. If you think of all the neighborhoods across the City, that would be extremely inefficient for the City to manage.

You live in NYC. Last I checked, Greenpoint didn't have its own and separate govenment.

Besides, while I am not homeless, I expect that homeless are attracted to Manhattan due to a greater ability to pan handle, receive assistance, etc. If I were homeless, I probably wouldn't choose to live in Glendale, Queens.
April 7, 2011, 2:08 pm
gptgal from Greenpoint says:
It's upsetting to me that people (who were not likely at this meeting) think those in opposition don't want to help the homeless. That's not the case. I would happily have a shelter in Greenpoint if the facility and location were more appropriate. We have people sleeping and dying in our parks because they don't have a safe place to go. No one in Greenpoint wants that. This specific location has a lot of issues that make it inappropriate for the type of facility DHS and BRC are proposing. Also, instead of taking the community's feedback just a few weeks ago and improving the proposal, DHS brought back the same exact proposal, but just using different names (BRC instead of Help USA). If they truly want to work with the community, they should have taken that feedback and incorporated it before coming back.
April 7, 2011, 5:50 pm
gptgal from Greenpoint says:
@Gary it's not currently residential, as reported not too long ago on this very site.
April 7, 2011, 6:04 pm
mary from greenpoint says:
those resident artists were bought out for 600k and the building was bought for $5.5M someone is expecting to make a BIG profit on the homeless if they are fronting that kind of money...........disgraceful
April 7, 2011, 6:57 pm
Joe Joe from Greenpoint says:
@Mary...Great point.
April 8, 2011, 10:16 am
Skip Guinness from Manhattan says:
THis is a difficult problem. I am just beginning to understand some of the homeless, but it wasnt easy

meet some of them at
April 9, 2011, 8:10 am
Maggie from Chelsea says:
Rosenblatt is trying to put a mega-shelter in our neighborhood too. It appears that the DHS and Muzzy are very close..which is why laws are being blatantly broken to put up these mega-shelters. If anyone would like to rally, please join us next Tuesday at 6:30. Location TBD--Join us on this facebook event entitled "Community Rally to Protest the BRC Mega-shelters":!/event.php?eid=210561795634465
May 10, 2011, 10:06 pm
swamp foxxx from greenpoint says:
Must be great to be a non-profit.

It is upsetting that the people trying to bring this shelter about are not taking into consideration the numerous concerns people have made, when they carelessly use the SAME proposal on a different letterhead (more or less).

While it's not realistic to expect the city to provide neighborhood-specific shelters (1. it's too expensive, and 2. the homeless wander to wherever the resources are) it is nevertheless true that shelters are best placed OUTSIDE of residential areas.
Why not build massive shelters in various heinous spots in flatiron & tribeca? Places that cater to the business crowd that close up after the workday?

I just want to add though:
WHY THE LACK OF FAMILY SHELTERS??? The homeless aren't limited to just men with drug problems who've had the ability to make life decisions and then chose poorly. When parents lose their houses & jobs, the kids get caught in the mix.

There is an EMS parked outside of the Greenpoint "Hotel" everyday without fail. By and large, shelters empty between the hours of 6-9 am.

On my walk to work I pass unaccompanied kids headed to school/bus/ least 50 or more... it's not uncommon for parents to leave the house BEFORE their children, as they have a longer commute.

Sticking a shelter that houses exclusively men on the corner of a family-dense street (which would empty early-AM) when children "commute" to school, and play during after-school hours, is a BAD idea.

If BRC/HELP/WTF wants to build a shelter because they get some kickback, consider one that would either 1. SERVE THE COMMUNITY, or 2. actually work to fight the problem of homelessness by not going after an easy target demographic when there is an outrageous number of homeless single women, homeless mothers w/ kids, homeless fathers w/ kids, and homeless families.
July 13, 2011, 2:35 pm
Clay St concerned from Greenpoint says:
Does anyone know what is happening at the building site now? They just put the corner of McGuinness and Clay up in scaffolding and they are working in there every day.
Aug. 21, 2011, 2:23 pm
Jindy30 from Greenpoint says:
Yes i haven't heard much about his since the failed helpUSA's time to get busy again...

Having read all the replies and having posted before mainly against the initial knee reaction to the original proposal from the greenpoint community my bone is the "fair share" issue...'it's seems greenpoint has way over it fair share of city services and sanction dumps... And of course there's the 17 million tons of oil under it's soil...'but of course this is about homelessness...well I think the city it going to create ghetto of troubled people... Yes homeless by also mentally Ill and addicted... I don't think they will be a big problem to the community but is every location the city decides a good location...??????

As last time I want to know details... but 200 people is too much in my opinion... And yes of course money and politics is a factor too... And if we don't stand against that we all lose..
Sept. 10, 2011, 1:18 am
VRam from Queens says:
I think Muzzy Rosenblatt should shut his yap. He was the one responsible for CBGBs closing. He needs to get a life.
Feb. 14, 2012, 3:41 pm
Nancy from Neighborhood says:
I think it is terrible that the residents of Greepoint just don't benefit from this shelter. There are penalty of local people that should benefit. We should have at least something to say about who for. BRC is profiteering from this not because they are so kind.If this would have been just for the locals I don't think we would all be so unwilling, this was not thought out correctly for the Greenpoint Community.
Aug. 1, 2012, 8:08 pm
Nancy from Greenpoint says:
If this shelter would be just for the locals I don't think we would be so against it, as our own will benefit, but this was not correctly thought out.
Aug. 1, 2012, 8:09 pm

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