Brighton Beach homeless shelter changes service provider following pushback

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A new men’s homeless shelter is set to open at 100 Neptune Ave. in Brighton Beach, sparking controversy.
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The owners of a Brighton Beach lot that will soon house a men’s homeless shelter have chosen a different service provider to run the facility, officials confirmed.

CORE, a social services organization that operates more than a dozen shelters across the city, is no longer involved in the 170-bed men’s shelter planned to open at 100 Neptune Ave., a representative for the Department of Homeless Services said Thursday.

“When DSS-DHS approves a proposal for shelter, the only result we will accept is a finished product that is ready for occupancy, operated by a qualified not-for-profit provider-partner, offering the high-quality services and supports that our clients need and deserve to help them get back on their feet,” said spokeswoman Neha Sharma in a statement. “To that end, property owners have the discretion to decide which provider they’d like to partner with at a given location, and in this case they’ve opted to work with a different provider.”

Sharma did not say who the new service provider is or what prompted the change. The property owners, Sor-San Realty Corp., could not be reached for comment, and a representative for CORE confirmed the change, but did not immediately say what prompted it. 

The announcement comes amid a months-long battle against the shelter waged by community members and local leaders, who argue, largely without evidence, that the facility will decrease property values, increase crime, and insufficiently support its homeless residents. Many critics site CORE’s history of building violations: in 2019, the service provider had nearly 300 open violations across its 40 facilities, but following the closure of its controversial “cluster sites,” the number of violations dropped to 60

Opponents of the incoming shelter have also claimed, largely without evidence, that CORE kicks out its residents during the day and that the provider boards more than a dozen people in one room — two rumors that DHS and CORE representatives have vehemently denied. Residents are allowed to stay on the premises during the day, and are given individualized schedules with job training and counseling, they said. As a “congregate shelter,” residents share bathrooms and other utilities, but each have their own room. 

The proposed shelter is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide” initiative, which seeks to open 90 shelters in every community across the city in an effort to spread the homeless shelter capacity evenly, rather than clustering unhoused people in poor neighborhoods, as other administrations have done

The incoming shelter would be the first traditional men’s shelter in Brooklyn’s Community Board 13, which encompasses Coney Island, Sea Gate, and parts of Gravesend and Brighton Beach. The community district houses just 0.2 percent of New York City’s shelter beds, despite representing 0.9 percent of the city’s population, according to data from 2019. Nearby Community District 15, where many of the shelter’s opponents are based, is home to 0.4 percent of shelter beds despite representing 1.69 of the city’s population.

Area Councilmember Chaim Deutsch has led the fight against the coming facility, circulating a petition arguing that the site is located was too close to schools, and holding a protest outside Gracie Mansion calling on the mayor to abandon his congregate shelter plan and open permanent housing instead. 

“These congregate shelters are not the solution, are not the answers for homelessness,” Deutsch said at the March 7 rally. “I spoke to the people who are in these homeless shelters, and they told me the resources aren’t there, the services aren’t there.”

Deutsch has requested an environmental impact study of the shelter site after locals raised health concerns about potential contamination of the land, and DHS representatives agreed to complete the assessment before proceeding with the project. The results of the study have not yet been released.