Garden for homeless

Homeless people and the mentally handicapped will become farmers sowing a rooftop garden if a social service group is given the OK to build a new shelter, but members of Community Board 17 — who get to weigh-in on the plan — think that may not come easy.

Community Counseling and Mediation, which has run a farm-and-shelter called “Georgia’s Place” in Crown Heights since 2006, says it wants to build an $11-million, 70-person refuge on a vacant lot at Lefferts Boulevard and Nostrand Avenue.

But some members of CB 17’s Housing Committee, which met with representatives of the Community Counseling last week, say that a new shelter could be a hard pill to swallow.

“I really don’t want homeless people in my vicinity,” said committee member Deon Weise, a social worker at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, who is dubious of the center’s ability to manage mentally handicapped residents and homeless people.

CB 17 Chairman Terry Hinds said that before the board OKs the shelter, it will have lots of questions for management and will likely face resistance.

“You will be asked questions and they will ask it in a forceful way,” said Hinds.

At the committee meeting, board members began the interrogation, asking how the center plans to fill its beds.

Laura Welder, the director of Community Counseling’s Crown Heights location, said the staff interviews potential tenants, performs background checks and random drug tests on residents, and only choose tenants who are self-sufficient.

Community Counseling director Emory Brooks said he expects some clashing with the community — but he says the group won’t go ahead without the board’s approval.

“Some of the resistance is understandable. I got the sense that they were very open and willing to consider the project,” said Brooks.

If approved, the shelter will have one of four rooftop farms in the entire city, according to the agency, and residents will get to plant, grow and eat the fruits of their labor.

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