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.