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Locals demand answers on pricey cost of Park Slope homeless shelters

Residents questioned city officials about the $10,000-per-unit cost of two planned homeless shelters slated to open on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope.
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Brownstone Brooklyn residents gathered at Grand Prospect Hall on Tuesday to condemn the city for inking a preliminary contract deal that will cost taxpayers more than $10,000 per unit, per month in operating costs for two planned homeless shelters in Park Slope.

“Where does it say in the city charter, or anywhere, that the taxpayers of this city have a responsibility to pay almost $11,000 per-month to house homeless people in luxury condos that the people in the community can’t afford to live in?” railed Bo Samajopoulos.

The neighboring shelters — located at 535 and 555 Fourth avenues, and offering a combined 253 housing units — have divided community members, who have demonstrated both ardent support and fierce opposition to the Department of Homeless Services plan since the refuges were announced last April.

According to public data, the city is planning on inking two roughly nine-year contracts for the buildings, both of which will be operated by not-for-profit Women In Need at a combined cost of $260 million beginning in December.

The building at 535 Fourth Ave. will cost taxpayers approximately $17 million per year — of which $6.3 million will be slated for rent, or about $3,547 in monthly rent per unit, according to the Department of Homeless Services.

By contrast, the building at 555 Fourth Ave. will cost $13 million yearly — $4.6 million in rent, which amounts to around $3,650 in per month rent for each unit, according to the Department.

The additional costs for services and personnel brings an added $6,000 on average, per unit — which the Department chalked up to high security costs and pricey social services. However, the non-rent cost is more than double what Women In Need pays at a similar shelter in Brownsville, according to Gothamist. Women in Need did not respond to a request for comment on the discrepancy between service costs on the two shelters.

The total cost of each unit — including rent and all other overhead expenses — tops $10,000 per month.

“As far as I can tell, this is fraud,” said Samajopoulos. “This scheme — because it’s not a deal, it’s a scheme — needs to go in the garbage where it belongs. And the people who thought it up need to go to jail where they belong.”

Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) took the microphone at Tuesday’s meeting to defend the cost, arguing that decades of stashing homeless shelters in lower income neighborhoods — where rent prices were lower — lead to a damning legacy of perpetual poverty.

“It had the consequence of concentrating homeless shelters in the lowest income neighborho­ods,” said Lander. “The decision to pay extra to be willing to put these shelters in the full diversity and array of neighborhoods in our city — including the south slope and including Manhattan — was a decision made by the de Blasio administration, and it is indeed one that I support.”

But, residents pushed back — asking why this developer was chosen to receive what appears to be a windfall from the city.

“I would like to know how these two developers were chosen to get full rent, and at full price,” said Amichaim Abramson. “I’m all for homeless shelters — but 3,500 dollars a month to these developers? Something feels very wrong. I would really like someone to explain how this happened, and who negotiated it, because we can make a better deal. I’m quite sure of it.”

Despite the outrage surrounding the contracts, many residents claimed the shelters’ critics true motivation was preventing homeless people from moving in next door.

“It feels somewhat disingenuous to come out against these shelters just because of some perceived political corruption — which there may be,” said John Alvarez. “I’m sure that this developer is greedy, and we can address that absolutely positively. I’m 100 percent on board with holding those people to task — but I don’t want to hold homeless families hostage as a result.”

Another pro-shelter speaker simply appealed to Brooklynites better angels.

“These families and children are our families and children,” said Mark Greenberg of the Interfaith Assembly on Homlessness and Housing. “I know that Brooklynites have a big heart, and I know that we can do this.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.
Updated 1:10 pm, July 25, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Solid reporting from South Slope says:
This is solid reporting. Contrary to Mr. Lander, I don't see anyone in this article saying that there should not be shelters in rich neighborhoods, just that the city should pay a fair price for those shelters (adjusting for the more expensive rent) and not overpay. Also interesting that the pro-shelter people and the anti-shelter people are all openly speculating that there is political corruption.
July 24, 4:25 pm
Brenda says:
What do psople think these Homeless deserve cheap stuff because they are homeless?!? Ten thousand a month sounds like a bargain!!
July 24, 6:20 pm
SCR from Realityville says:
If anyone really wants to give the homeless an honest break,what's really,is that they be sheltered;in places-where a lot public-transportation,is available. Since,they definitely need this,to get to a possible job. Also,they should be housed near fully stocked supermarkets. Which,are continually,less costly than;the seemingly endless grocies-stores. Or even more costly,gourmet-shops. And,just as important,they should have access to a laundromat;as they need clean clothes,too. Placing the homeless,often in precisely the opposite surroundings,does inevitably make them;even more impoverished. Or at the best,they stay the same. Let's just be honest,about this matter
July 24, 6:20 pm
Homeless says:
Ex-squeeze me “SCR”!!! What makes you an expert on homeless?!? Why do you think you know what’s best for us?? Are we all the same? Are you somehow a genius who can predict the future?? NO !!!
July 25, 4:51 am
LK from Fort Greene, Brooklyn says:
At these rates why not house them in the 1000 of empty market rate apartments in all the new high rise buildings throughout the city. Make the developers house them at a reduced rate in exchange for all the tax breaks they get. With all the money DeBlah gets from his developer friends in exchange for sweetheart deals he should include that they have to dedicate a percentage of those empty units to housing the homeless who after all have been priced out of their neighborhoods because of the gentrification caused by all the upzoning given to these developers.
July 25, 8:40 am
SCR from Realityville says:
'Homeless",I am neither a genius,nor a homeless expert. But,I predict,that what the local politicians are doing;will NOT decrease-numbers of NYC homeless. Rather,the numbers will continue to increase,2,5,10-ten years;down the road. And"Homeless",I am,really mistaking;about the needs for,public-transportion,supernarkets;and self-service places,for laundry? I'd like to know?
July 25, 8:40 am
TKS says:
Despite the unfortunate framing of this headline and article, I am very glad to hear that there were a number of people at this meeting who support the shelters. I know that some people came with their children to show support and understanding that anyone can fall on hard time and might need help. We can and should look into the financing of any publicly funded entities or services, and there's a lot to say about the way our city helps, or doesn't help, homeless people, but I am also very glad that several hundred homeless mothers and children will soon have a safe and clean place to live.
July 25, 10:10 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Most people support homeless shelters, but many people are sick and tired of the in-your-face corruption of city government. This city bailout of two developers is a classic pay-to-play, and guess who picks up the bill for rewarding these developers for their failure? You, the tax payer, playing rich developers for their failures while they sail off in their yachts. People who support these shelters are kind fools.
July 25, 10:46 am
LK from Fort Greene, says:
Wow! Did you know that Christine Quinn with a $350,000 salary is the director of Women in Need, who has the contract for these Park Slope buildings. This non-profit organizations is another branch of predatory developer with claims of righteous 'affordable housing' or in this case-caring for the homeless. The taxpayer money that could be more wisely spread around to help more people, is going into her pocket. This is not about supporting the homeless but about preventing a developer under the not for profit name ripping off the taxpayers again.
July 25, 2:38 pm
skipper from Park Slope says:
Great, we will have even *more* panhandling, screaming-yelling, drug-ridden nutcases right in the middle of Park Slope. Whhat a great idea by this extreme-leftie De Blasio: move all the homeless beggars into the middle of decent neighborhoods so they can beg right where they live, not wondering around in the city anymore... and this idiot, half-witted Lander is supporting it, making me wonder why would he go against his own voter base, (=how much did that cost to De Blasio or the developers)? Moreover this Women In Need needs to be thoroughly investigated by the FBI, starting with this piece of garbage Christine Quinn, working for Women In Need for $350,000/year - this entire story is reeks of classic, scumbag NYC corruption at the highest level so our utterly corrupt, local courts cannot be used. If the feds are at it they should also go after the army of parasitic so-called "nonprofits", usually run by women, using these fake, pseudo-feminist mission statements and slogans at every step, while operating (=collecting money) under various names from taxpayer money, paying $200,000-300,000 salaries for themselves. (Eg "Center for Battered Women" is the same as "sanctuary for Families" and the same as a couple of other orgs, all together getting around $25M annually - for doing nothing but essentially stalling court proceedings every way they can.)
July 26, 2:04 pm
Rosa from Gowanus says:
This scheme will only create further divides between the rich and the poor in NYC, contrary to DeBlasio's pseudo-left wing "progressive" agenda. It does not provide affordable housing for the homeless. It only provides short term temporary housing until they can find low-wage jobs and low rent apartments in low income neighborhoods. In the meantime they are stuck in the poorest corner of Park Slope where they can't afford any of the local amenities or services, including the local "organic" supermarkets. Meanwhile, the housing stock for market rate renters is reduced, driving up their cost so only the wealthy can afford them. There will be more gentrification, not less, as a result.
July 26, 6:27 pm

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