HELP USA wants to house the homeless, but opponents say that it’s anything but a good neighbor.
The non-profit organization, which proposes a 200-bed shelter in Greenpoint, already runs a “transitional housing” facility in Brownsville that is unpopular with the locals.
“The women prostitute every night,” said Adele Garcia, who lives near the HELP Women’s Center on Saratoga Avenue in Brownsville. “The police are constantly here. All it does is bring down the neighborhood. That shelter’s got to go.”
Neighborhood businessmen, such as Jeff Laino, general manager for Watkins Poultry Merchants, point to the building’s “constant issues” that has attracted ambulances and even the police.
“The women are sometimes out on the street soliciting themselves,” said Laino. “In terms of the women interacting with people, there’s none of that. But if you drive around the neighborhood, you can see them wandering around.”
Located in an industrial section surrounded by masonry and metal workshops, the shelter provides services for victims of substance abuse, domestic violence or unemployment in a 66-bed dormitory.
“It’s no good for the neighborhood,” said Manny Gomez, who lives one block down the street. “They hang around all night and smoke.”
Others are more charitable in support of the center. Edgar Diaz, who lives one block away, says the shelter’s residents “don’t bother anybody” and that he hasn’t noticed the prostitution problems.
“We really don’t see it,” said Diaz. “Maybe at 3 or 4 in the morning. The cops come quick. A lot of time the cops think they’re [the women] prostituting cause they can’t get in [to the center].”
Diaz believes that a shelter by HELP USA in Greenpoint would be a good thing for that community, but Garcia disagrees.
“I wouldn’t recommend it,” said Garcia.
HELP USA officials declined to comment.
— with Joe Anuta
©2010 Community News Group
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