They’re calling it a bad Samaritan.
Residents of a Sunset Park homeless shelter claim operator Samaritan Village has not been making good on promises to help them find employment or permanent homes. Reps from the company — which runs the controversial, 150-bed shelter in a former hotel on 49th Street between Second and Third avenues — say they conduct weekly workshops to help people living there get out of poverty, but several residents say Samaritan Village has a poor track record of providing the services.
“No one ever told me about workshops or anything at all like that,” said Daniel, who didn’t want to share his full name for fear of reprisal. “In the three months I’ve been here, I’ve never seen workshops for housing or anything at all like that.”
Workers meet individually with shelter inhabitants weekly to help them find housing — and they also hold weekly workshops to teach groups of residents how to apply for low-income housing and to assist residents with job-hunting, a Samaritan Village spokeswoman said.
Six residents interviewed confirmed there are housing and employment specialists on site, but say they do not hold regular meetings and Samaritan Village did not avail them of the regular workshops.
“Where? Where are these workshops. They’re not here,” said a second man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the shelter. “I’ve never heard of, seen, or been to any.”
Reps from Samaritan Village and the Department of Homeless Services maintain that workshops are available to those living at the shelter and that some residents simply choose not to participate.
“Not every client takes advantage of these services,” said Lauren Gray, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services. “We will continue to offer and support these services and encourage clients to utilize the resources and support available to them.”
But residents reporting they are in the dark about services is concerning, according to some Sunset Parkers. Neighbors on 49th Street say shelter residents with little to do hang out in front of the building and harass locals — and failing to provide social services is not helping, according to a board member of Community Board 7.
“If you bring homeless shelters into the community, give them productive things to do,” said Carmen Toress, who has been lobbying operators to provide job-training and housing services on a daily basis.