There are drugs and homeless, but at least it’s cheap!

Gimme shelter: Residents of the luxury apartment building across from this Clay Street homeless shelter want to leave because of the flurry of criminal activity on their block — but that would mean abandoning the below-market-rate units they won in the city's housing lottery.
Brooklyn Paper
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It is the high cost of affordable housing.

Rent-stabilized tenants of a luxury Greenpoint apartment building are sick and tired of dealing with the drugs and violence that flood into their streets from a cluster of nearby homeless shelters — but many of the residents scored below-market-rate deals on the fancy Manhattan Avenue flats and now they have to choose between the sweet deals and their peace of mind.

“Nobody wants to move,” said a lucky lease-holder “Mike” (who declined to share his last name for fear the shelter troublemakers will recognize and harass him). “Lightning doesn’t strike twice for a lot of people.”

Residents of the luxury rentals between Box and Clay Streets claim they routinely deal with disruptive and illegal activity around their doors thanks to poor management of an adjacent emergency shelter, and loud, violent confrontations routinely erupt outside their windows.

Some tenants say they have been harassed by the aggressive homeless set that lives at the 58–66 Clay Street shelter along with a refuge for formerly-incarcerated men at 400 McGuinness Blvd. just a block away, making the space between the homes a hotbed of unsavory activity where drug deals go down, and residents constantly walk through crowds of pot-smoking riff-raff who loiter on the sidewalk.

“I’m always on my guard — I turn my rings around when I’m walking around my neighborho­od,” said Emily Grosso, who plans to move out of the plagued building with her five-year-old when the lease is up. “I hold my son’s hand very tightly.”

But Grosso is only shipping out because she pays up for one of the building’s market-rate apartments — roughly half of the residents scored discounted units through the city’s housing lottery, and bailing on their winnings could mean abandoning their one shot at so-called “affordable” living in a neighborhood riddled with sky-rocketing costs, explained Mike.

Residents shared their horror stories at a town hall meeting last September, calling out the shelter operators and the Department of Homeless Services for failing to corral their tenants and squelch illegal shenanigans.

The city has since equipped the site with five security guards, as well as a few of their own law-enforcement officers.

But the increased security has done little to alleviate the problems, say residents — Grosso claims she has witnessed shelter tenants drinking and smoking in the apartment doorway while all five guards looked on and did nothing.

Meanwhile, operators of the luxury residence have only stationed a doorman at the Box Street entrance — the alternate entrance directly facing the shelter remains unguarded, and residents claim the building’s management team does not even respond to their e-mails regarding safety concerns.

And the troubled corridor is about to get a host of new rent-paying neighbors — the first slivers of the massive Greenpoint Landing development, which holds both market-rate and below-market-rate units, are popping up just a block away from the shelter.

Grosso says the Landing tenants’ best hope is that their management will tell them about the shelter presence on the block before move-in day — a courtesy she says she never received. Folks in her building were surprised when the shelter opened up across the street about a month after they moved in.

“They should be more up-front, and they should be more responsive,” she said.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Good Morning from Greenpoint says:
The chicken wire hotel didn't keep Grosso from moving in.
March 8, 2016, 9:08 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Crime is a good way to make even market rents "affordable." Well, not a -good- way. It's an effective way.
March 8, 2016, 9:43 am
b from gp says:
The men's shelter on 'the other side of the tracks' is hardly a concern, for Grosso.

The hotel people have loiterered on this corner, for years. Ambulances and cop cars have visited this corner for years.

The couple's shelter loiterers are more noisy, messy than the mostly solo souls of the hotel.

At least the shelters are well maintained comparatively speaking to the hotel.
March 8, 2016, 10:46 am
fyi from Greenpoint says:
Since the arrival of 1133, I've noticed a lot more bags of dog poop, on the sidewalk, just beyond the boundaries of their building.
March 8, 2016, 10:53 am
jjm from c. hill says:
Well I guess they are gonna have to just get used with it. Everyone else isnt fortunate or lucky enough to get an "affordable" apartment so you gotta take the good along with the bad. There's only so much the cops can do so just deal with it.
March 8, 2016, 11:01 am
jjm from c. hill says:
Well I guess they are gonna have to just get used with it. Everyone else isnt fortunate or lucky enough to get an "affordable" apartment so you gotta take the good along with the bad. There's only so much the cops can do so just deal with it.
March 8, 2016, 11:02 am
whooelse says:
Those in the neighborhood ought to not say a thing & be grateful they even have a roof over their head because they could end up in the shelter tomorrow with the rest of them.
March 8, 2016, 12:58 pm
schaz from Greenpoint says:
The prior comment "be grateful they even have a roof over their head because they could end up in the shelter tomorrow with the rest of them" is too true for too many. A job loss, an illness, or a string of misfortune or mistakes ...all too human.
And yet, good ole Ebenezer Scrooge appears to be alive and well in the hearts of too many people. Unfortunately, part of his Christmas Carol story has been left behind. Indeed, it's the most important part: the part where the three spirits of Christmas -past, present, and future- come to visit; the part where they redeem Scrooge, the part where they transform him. That’s too bad. For, living in their comforable warm homes, some choose to shout out, in their fear and their anger: “Bah Humbug! Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? Are these people hungry? Are they homeless? It’s not my problem! It’s their fault! Get them out of my sight, let them die and decrease the surplus population! But please -NOT in my back yard, not in my street!”
Yes, we should ALL complain --but the real complaint should be about an economic and social system that makes such measures as church soup kitchens, food pantries, and homeless shelters NECESSARY; We should complain about a way of life and “values” where people are disposable, whether at work, or on the street or in these shelters; We should complain about a society where our prioirties are so terribly skewed, where the only gods we truly seem to worship are money, property values, and greed --above people.
These lost people in our shelters and on our streets need our healing and our help - not our harsh words of hatred and harassment; not our dismissal and our disgust. For if YOU were in their tattered shoes; if YOU lived their shattered lives, then YOU would hope and pray and plead for compassion and understanding; YOU would hope and pray and plead that when YOU fell, people would help to lift you up - instead of kicking you further and further.
Neighbors, please, LIVE your faith and your humanity--NOT your prejudices. your pocketbooks and your fears.  Love thy neighbor? Yes ---ESPECIALLY if they are poor, hungry or homeless. THAT is the true meaning of “community”.
These people are not some kind of half-human monsters. They are people who have lost their way, people who desperately need our help, and our understanding. How callous some of us have become. There but for fortune, my friends...there but for fortune.
You don't need to be religious to understand the truth and wisdom in Christ's exhortation: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me”. It's the essense of a sane society.
Indeed, what kind of society, what kind of community, and what kind of people are we, IF we close our eyes, IF we turn away, and IF we let people die on our street corners, in our parks ...and in our hearts? IF we let that happen, then ask not for whom the bell tolls, dear neighbors. It mournfully tolls for thee....

March 8, 2016, 3:54 pm
whooelse says:
Homelessness can happen to any of us at anytime so dont go around on your high horse chastising other people for being poor, homeless, underemployed, unemployed, etc. because it might be you next, you never know. It may sound cliche to say you're only one paycheck away but its the god honest truth.
March 8, 2016, 5:06 pm
Clay St Resident from Greenpoint says:
While these comments are clearly well-intentioned, I feel that there's some context needed.

The two shelters mentioned in the article exist within a block from one another. They serve two very different subsets of the homeless population. The BRC shelter at 400 McGuinness is an assessment center that serves recently released prisoners. The 66 Clay street shelter serves couples and individuals in "emergency" situations. These two groups do not mix well. They are in need for very different reasons. What we have is two very vulnerable groups of people and neither are helping the other. This would be a very different article if we had one shelter that was an assesment center and another shelter that was a work program, like The Doe Fund's Ready, Willing and Able program. Instead, we have two populations that are in immediate crisis mode.

Also, consider that the 66 Clay St shelter itself isn't up what our higher aspirations are to help the homeless in their struggle. 66 Clay was opened practically overnight. It was opened in November of 2014. (Source: On top of that, it was previously a halfway house that was closed because of horrible conditions. (Source: As a resident on clay street, I can tell you that the company that runs 66 Clay St isn't doing their best to get residents into permanent housing; some have been there since last year. It's clear that they don't have the resources to assist them to get back on their feet.

It's 2016. There's a record high homeless population. We live in one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest countries to ever exist. Is this the best we can do?
March 8, 2016, 6:09 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
There are plenty of problems and shady deals with affordable housing in this city. Yet every day it's making headlines as if it's a good thing.
March 8, 2016, 8:39 pm
James from East New York says:
No amount of money that's others have can help someone who does not want to work . Stop with "riches city in the us " bs. It shows a lack of understanding of the issue or an attempt to be disingenuous
March 8, 2016, 8:49 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
The damn near 60,000 people in the shelter system would trade places with these nitpickers in a heartbeat.
March 8, 2016, 10:57 pm
Alice says:
They need a place to hangout. And activities.
March 8, 2016, 11:25 pm
Daddy from Greenpoint says:
The solution thus far is the police cars turn their sirens on, circle the block, so as to establish a presence.
March 9, 2016, 3:56 pm
whooelse says:
@daddy, wow thats all you could of huh? More law & order is not the answer. It doesnt work at all. These people need opportunities to get into affordable homes, not more police presence.
March 9, 2016, 6:16 pm
Da says:
Communication break down. I described the action that has been taken thus far. Would much prefer a revert to peace and solitude.
March 9, 2016, 11:33 pm
Shelter Sex Offender from Greenpoint says:
That hotel is hotties hotties hotties!!!
All day longggggg!
March 10, 2016, 9:40 pm
Pat from Waterfront —— says:
It sounds like the writer is jealous of the people who live in the ''discounted units'' and maybe even the homeless who stay at this shelter. Talk about drugs your named after one, Allegra!
March 11, 2016, 4:36 am
Margaret dumas says:
Call me at 13473040366
March 17, 2016, 2:29 am
Bill from Former Greenpointer says:
It sounds like Greenpoint back in the 1970's and 80's.If the people living there now and paying those rents actually saw what that area was like, they would feel lucky to only have people hanging around. I grew up there when it was a very family oriented place, everyone knew each other and it wasn't all about the money and putting up buildings. The good old days that will never be back. Deal with it, you helped created it.
Oct. 6, 2016, 1 pm

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