In Carroll Gardens, residents say Bloomberg illegally fast-tracking unwanted homeless shelter

The Brooklyn Paper
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Mayor Bloomberg is illegally shoving a controversial men’s homeless shelter down the throats of Carroll Gardeners before a new mayor takes office in January, claim angry residents.

Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) was one of many at a jam-packed meeting on Tuesday night who said that the city is pushing the throttle on a proposal to turn a vacant 10-unit W. Ninth Street building into a permanent 170-bed homeless shelter through a corrupt scheme in the fleeting days of the Bloomberg Administration.

“There is a concerted effort by the Bloomberg Administration to rush this [proposal] in, in ways that raise many more questions than they answer,” Lander said to roughly 100 residents who filled the lobby of a Court Street apartment complex, just steps away from the planned shelter between Court Street and Hamilton Avenue.

“They are trying to get it through before they are done to ink it for a lot of years,” said Lander, who along with other local pols, called for an investigation of the shelter plan earlier this month after the city cleared numerous violations on the W. Ninth Street site, according to officials.

A May 2013 audit by the Department of Buildings found “several objections” to zoning, building codes, and multiple dwellings law and threatened to revoke all permits from the site that leaseholder Housing Solutions USA and Augila Incorporated have been trying to turn into an all men’s adult homeless shelter since the operator filed with the Department of Homeless Services last year, according to Lander’s office.The Department of Buildings then dismissed all violations on the property expect for one, according to the city agency’s website. Lander, along with state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Fort Greene) and Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Carroll Gardens), also filed a Freedom of Information Law request for all documents detailing the buildings agency’s audit.

The Coalition for Carroll Gardens, a group that has been fighting a year-long battle against this shelter plan and held Tuesday night’s meeting, urged fretful residents to sign petitions and testify at a city hearing on Thursday on the Department of Homeless Services’ proposal to grant a renewable five-year contract to the shelter operator of the W. Ninth Street building.

“This is a very narrow window of opportunity we have to take action as a community,” said Paige Bellenbaum, a leader of the group, which asked residents to donate money to its legal-defense fund.

The Coalition — which has spent several months battling the shelter plan in court — tried to block the plan by filing for a temporary restraining order against the city and service providers last year, and celebrated a big win when a state Supreme Court judge ordered in December that the building not be used “in violation of applicable laws and requiremen­ts,” even though he allowed construction to continue at the site.

Lander pointed out that the homeless shelter, which residents have been fighting since its inception, would have been up and running long ago without the road blocks put up by the Coalition.

Many residents have contended that the proposal to cram 170 adult men into a 10-condominum building is abusive and illegal.

“You’re squeezing 170 people into a building that doesn’t have the room for it,” said longtime W. Ninth Street resident Steven Gladstone, who claimed that his block was swarming with loiterers when 120 homeless veterans temporarily moved into the proposed homeless shelter in November.

The seven-story building, which was constructed more than 10 years ago, was originally slated for luxury condos, but was never occupied until the vets moved in after Hurricane Sandy ravaged their Queens shelter. They were out within 10 days.

Other residents argued that the proposal for the long-term homeless shelter is unsafe and unfit for the family-centric neighborhood.

“I’m afraid of the safety of the residents and that it might attract a population that increases crime,” said Court Street resident Les Wacker.

Residents and local pols also fear that Alan Lapes, the operator of several homeless shelters around the city who has been accused of operating shoddy facilities marred by violence and drugs, and who they think has connections to Housing Solutions USA, could be their new neighborhood landlord.

In the past year Housing Solutions USA merged with Augila Incorporated, which is headed by Robert Hess – a former New York City Department of Homeless Services commissioner.

Public hearing on proposed homeless shelter (49-51 Chambers Street near Centre Street in Manhattan) Oct. 17, 10 am.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at
Updated 10:15 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

David from Brooklyn says:
This is classic NIMBY syndrome.

Please show these human beings in unfortunate circumstances dignity and respect.

It may even do some of the residents of Carroll Gardens good to volunteer at the shelter.
Oct. 17, 2013, 10:03 am
Lisa from Carroll Gardens says:
I have no problem with a homeless shelter in my community, as long as they offer the services that they say that they will provide for their residents. What I object to is that the zoning is illegal and dangerous for the residents of the building.

The shelter plans to house 170 people in 10 apartments -- That's 17 people in each apartment!! In addition to being dangerous and therefore illegal per fire codes and building codes, it's blatantly inhumane!!!

Yes, dignity and respect. And the same protection under the LAW.

Let's open the shelter with 60 residents.
Oct. 17, 2013, 10:45 am
anon123 from cg says:
The issue's with the building's C of O, construction, and management are simply an easy cover for the NIMBYism here.

I used to be based nearby and attended the raucous meeting last October where residents voiced their (much more honest concerns) about the shelter. It was an incredibly ugly display of hypocrisy on the part of people who would likely claim to be progressive to your face.

That same mean-spiritedness is echoed in the article above with false ideas such as one that the block was "swarming with loiterers" last fall. It wasn't - I stared out that window every day toward the shelter, and those guys were incredibly nice and inquisitive about the neighborhood.

Among the snippets I recorded at last year's meeting:
- perhaps the most ridiculous, concern that shelter residents would throw trash and things into other people's neighboring backyards, which seems to me a pretty blatant refusal to identify with those in the shelter as humans.
- One nearby resident told me point blank that he "paid a lot for his apartment and was tired of being screwed over" (by the closure of Smith 9th
- over and over, the idea of crime and even sexual assault was raised
- people said they "would never go past Buttermilk Channel" again
Oct. 17, 2013, 11:41 am
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
There is nothing monstrous about not wanting addicts and the mentally ill around your family. It's the most normal thing in the world. Why anyone ever apologizes for that I'll never understand. It's as old as civilization itself. People have always felt that way.

I would say that sentiments like anon123 are the dishonest voice. They're a detached construction from people with a political agenda looking to get up on a soapbox to let the world know how 'evolved' they are.
Oct. 17, 2013, 12:12 pm
jack russo from carroll gardens says:
as a resident of the neighborhood (i live around the block!) the problem we have with homeless people being sheltered's that they're stuffing 170 people into 10 units. do the math... that's 17 people per apartment. How is that 'dignity and respect'?
Wouldn't this type of building be more appropriate for 10 homeless families? Who i'm sure would welcome the opportunity to raise their kids in a nice neighborhood that's safe and fun and so catered to kids now?
So to all the people like 'David from brooklyn' try getting to know what the real issue is here....or just read the article.
Oct. 17, 2013, 1:31 pm
CGman from Carroll Gardens says:
The corrupt (former) city officils that are lining their pockets with taxpayer money by taking advantage of the shelter crisis in this city are relying on any protest of their actions to dismissed as NIMBY whining. Do your own research into Aguilla and Hess and Lapes. They're screwing the homeless and screwing the neighborhood and getting rich doing it. Bloomberg does not care and DeBlasio took their campaign contributions.
Oct. 17, 2013, 3:15 pm
anon123 from formerly cg says:
Northside Ned: wow, just wow. Last time I checked the "addicts and the mentally ill" are not bad people, they could in fact, be you and your family. If you don't like living in a city that has a right to housing for all, then New York City's not for you.

I hope you have the opportunity to visit and volunteer at a shelter, even one--God forbid--that serves those who do suffer from addiction or mental illness. They're people too and they probably have a lot more compassion for fellow citizens than you do. Only proves my point more.

There are issues with Lapes - he's not a good guy by any means - but please *do not conflate* organizations that serve homeless people with mental illness, traumatic brain injury, vets, addicts, working families, and the million other groups that make up NYC's homeless population with criminals. Open your mind a little bit.
Oct. 17, 2013, 8:19 pm
anon123 from formerly cg says:
Oh, and dormitory-style shelters are absolutely an accepted practice - they're used by reputable homeless service organizations. I'd encourage you all to learn about and support BRC, one of the organizations doing things right in NYC. Sometimes dorm-style housing works best for certain residents.
Oct. 17, 2013, 8:21 pm
Notorious N.E.D. from Greenpoint says:
"I used to be based nearby...." anon123

Deep roots in the area huh?

Don't kid yourself, the 'pro' people on this are not longtime residents. They are not homeowners. They are not people who have children. They are professional liberals, whose chief motivation is trying to alleviate their emotional issues caused by the sizable chasm between their accomplishments and their egos. Oh, and people who stand to make $ off of it.

Good luck CG. We got one here in Greenpoint last year. It's been great. Nice uptick in street crime and the last I heard someone stabbed someone with an icepick.

But it could be anyone of us right?
Oct. 17, 2013, 9:21 pm
Notorious N.E.D. from Greenpoint says:
"If you don't like living in a city that has a right to housing for all..." -anon123

More spin doctored rhetoric presented as fact.

When did housing in NYC become an inalienable right? It isn't and never has been.
Oct. 17, 2013, 9:43 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
“I’m afraid of the safety of the residents and that it might attract a population that increases crime,” said Court Street resident Les Wacker.

Im guessing the population he's referring to must be black & hispanic.
Oct. 17, 2013, 10:20 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
Besides the folks in nearby red hook projects have been scheming on CG residents before the shelter idea was even in consideration so whats the big deal now?
Oct. 17, 2013, 10:28 pm
T-Bone from DoBro says:
I'm not burdened with liberal guilt so I'll say it. I wouldn't want these skells and layabouts near my home. It's a shame since that area is getting nice.
Oct. 18, 2013, 7:36 am
judahspechal from bedstuy says:
No one wants a homeless shelter in their neighbor hood, but homeless people comes from just about every neighborhoods.

I grew up in BedStuy with Groups homes, & shelters.
Fact is our two Armories are shelters.

It is good to see the City spread out the shelters across the city, instead of it current Bed Stuy concentration.
Oct. 18, 2013, 9:25 am
Jerry from Downtown says:
I love it when NIMBYs pull the ruse that a shelter, dev-disabled home, or other facility won't be "good enough" for its residents ... whom the NIMBYs don't want there at all.
Oct. 18, 2013, 11:21 am
west 9th st resident from Carroll Gardens says:
Men will be housed in dormitory style 23-46 people per room (read the fair share proposal). Each one costs 3000 per month to the city. That mean a large group of middlemen make a huge profit off this, from non profits to landlords etc. Why not give each man 2000 dollars a month to go rent a studio apartment where they don't have a to share bathrooms and just have one locker. For those of you defending the shelter, you are defending a waste of money. Right to housing does not mean people like Lapes should get rich providing bunk beds. But people hate the idea of subsidized housing so they would rather rip off the tax payers this way. And no I don't want 170 men living in dorms next to me who are given a 10 pm curfew and have no communal space as they are crammed in a ——ty badly built building that should be bulldozed anyhow.Im tired of being called NIMBY on this. west 9th is a tiny street with small houses, one ——hole of a building goes up and now they want to ram it with homeless men. They asked for the outcry. they could have put 20 families in there and there wouldn't have been a peep out of the neighborhood. They are pulling a fast one. Good for Carroll Gardens for making this BS public.
Oct. 18, 2013, 11:07 pm
Jerry from Downtown says:
"they could have put 20 families in there and there wouldn't have been a peep out of the neighborhood."

Surely you jest ... because this is nyc. If they wanted to house 20 families, locals would find new reasons to complain.
Oct. 19, 2013, 10:30 am
John from Downtown says:
This is such an outrage...the opposition that is.

Sure there are problems with the developer, but this is a wonderful opportunity to help the poor and the needy, the people we say we care so much about.

You people are ridiculous hypocrits, DINOs - Democrats In Name Only.

You are heartless Republicans.
Oct. 22, 2013, 2:11 am
David from Across the street says:
All the people accusing everyone of NIMBY behavior are the real hypocrites. If someone was packing an unsafe amount of homeless people into a small building next to their property, you know they would all be singing a different tune.
Oct. 25, 2013, 6:26 pm

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