Greenpointers: City installing homeless shelter in ‘dead of night’

Open house: The site of a possible new homeless shelter on Clay Street in Greenpoint.
The Brooklyn Paper
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The city is rushing to open a new homeless shelter in Greenpoint to avoid answering to opponents in the community, according to neighbors and a local pol.

A shelter is set to open at 58-66 Clay St., a former halfway house, this week, a single week after the city notified the neighborhood’s assemblyman. A community board leader said the panel is dismayed that the city is opening the shelter without consulting residents first.

“We are not opposed to a planned shelter program. The homeless of our community must be placed in decent standard housing,” said Community Board 1 chairwoman Dealice Fuller. “However, these shelters must be carefully woven into communities and not smuggled in by dead of night.”

The city’s Department of Homeless Services sent a letter to Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D–Greenpoint) last week stating that it planned to open an emergency shelter within a week. The letter stressed the scale of the city’s current record homeless population.

“As a city and government, we have a duty to assist in helping to rebuild the lives of homeless men, women, and children,” the department’s deputy commissioner Camille Rivera wrote, citing the 57,665 people listed as homeless in New York, a third of those being working families who do not make enough to pay for housing. “Every borough, neighborhood, and community district, as a part of the city of New York, must do its part to address and assist the growing number of homeless families.”

The problem, some believe, is that Greenpoint is already doing more than its fair share. There are already three homeless shelters in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, including the 300-capacity men’s shelter on Skillman Avenue, Lentol said. The assemblyman, Brooklyn’s longest-serving pol, said that the city is banking on a lack of opposition — until it’s too late to uproot the shelter.

“I have seen mayoral administrations come and go in my time, and they unfortunately all operate the same way, through the path of least resistance,” said Lentol, who was first elected in 1972. “We are saturated enough. This emergency exists throughout the city, and they should not burden just one community board district.”

The new shelter is supposed to accommodate as many as 91 homeless adult couples.

Locals say they are worried about the shelter bringing more crime to the area.

“Where do they think these people are going to go when they leave the shelter?” said Jackie Brezeveski, who lives nearby on India Street. “I know most of them are good people, but there are always bad apples in the bunch and some of them will cause trouble.”

The city did not return calls for comment.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

jjm from c. hill says:
Maybe this shelter can help drive down the rent. If so, hopefully they'll put some more in other high-rent areas as well.
Nov. 12, 2014, 9:31 pm
Jo from Greenpoint says:

I've been living in Greenpoint for 30 years and have seen a noticeable change ( not in a good way) after the 300 bed shelter opened on McGuinness Blvd because there are many more shady characters and junkie looking type littering the streets. Just this week an ambulance carted away two people on separate occasions from the library and one of the officers asked "what shelter are you from?". Not to mention the uptick in robberies. Last year I was followed for a few blocks and into a grocery store by one of those shady characters. I don't feel safe walking around alone after dark on the side streets anymore.

In years past if you saw a homeless person 99% of the time it was just one of the Polish drunks from either park and they were pretty harmless for the most part. I didn't see anyone trying to open a shelter for them and I doubt this shelter will help the few of them that have survived til this point.

I am all for helping people but not at the expense of my peace of mind and the safety for my family and myself.
Nov. 12, 2014, 11:58 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
I see it like this, the city desperately needs more affordable housing. Not all of these developers out here now want to build a significant amount (freakin' 80/20, what a joke). 1 way to do it is to put things like shelters, soup kitchens, etc. in areas where market-rate rents are high, therefore eventually pushing down prices.
Nov. 13, 2014, 3:37 am
Chris from Greenpoint says:
Guaranteed to have a sex offender living there, and the site is less than 1000 square feet from a proposed school that is to be built. Welcome to your next huge lawsuit NYC.
Nov. 13, 2014, 8:48 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
At least Greenpoint's being more welcoming and less disgraceful than Elmhurst, Queens.
Nov. 13, 2014, 9:04 am
joe from blow says:
"hopefully they'll put some more in other high-rent areas as well"

Reality check, such places already exist in affluent areas!
Nov. 13, 2014, 2:49 pm
b from NYC says:
I would graciously welcome this shelter if it would contribute to improving homelessness in this city. Infact, I've let a homeless person stay in own apartment, because the system is so unpleasant. I've known a handful of others who have done the same. My own experience was no good and my patience tried. An older iron fisted well to do white lady I know managed to produce decent results with the second generation, after having surrendered much of her own life.

Too often we confuse solving the problem with enabling it.
Nov. 13, 2014, 3:40 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
@joe, i know & i hope they build more just to give these yups a reality check.
Nov. 13, 2014, 4:59 pm
Me from Gowanus says:
How about we trade the Gowanus parole office for the Greenpoint homeless shelter.
Nov. 13, 2014, 6:02 pm
b from NYC says:
Actually the 1st generation was a refugee teen, so different from the USA homeless teens and yet not in the sense of adolescent behavior.
Nov. 14, 2014, 8:16 am
b from NYC says:
Smaller shelters tend to be better managed, though at max cap, such as the 15th st Friends Shelter.
Nov. 14, 2014, 8:58 am
b from nyc says:
full cap, not max

oy vey
Nov. 14, 2014, 9:17 am
b from nyc says:
Wait a second, this use to be the chickenwire hotel, like the ones that use to be on the Bowery. So they're making it official, I wouldn't say that's really adding beds.
Nov. 14, 2014, 12:08 pm

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