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Greenpoint homeless shelter on the move

Greenpoint residents blast church for opening homeless shelter
Not on my street: Neighbors of the Greenpoint Reformed Church on Milton Street are upset that the church quietly opened a 10-bed homeless shelter.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A controversial North Brooklyn homeless shelter has found a new home — moving out of the Greenpoint Reformed Church less than three months after it opened.

The 10-bed respite center — which sparked the ire of some of its Milton Street neighbors when it opened with no notice in November — found new digs last Thursday just blocks away at the Church of Ascension on Kent Street.

The Church of Ascension is where the facility initially planned to open last fall, but that proposal ran aground and Greenpoint Reformed Church pastor Ann Kansfield took the program in as winter neared.

But now, Kansfield said she is too overwhelmed to host the shelter.

“As a person who is ultimately responsible, I lack the capacity to handle it,” said Kansfield, whose church will continue to run its soup kitchen and food pantry.

Rev. John Mertz, pastor of the Church of the Ascension, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, but Coucilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) said the switch between the shelters was seamless, keeping everyone out of the cold.

“We wanted to make sure there was a continuity of service,” said Levin. “There was a blizzard coming on Friday.”

Some Milton Street residents railed against the shelter in recent weeks, complaining about a lack of communication with the Greenpoint Reformed Church, as well as catcalls, noise, and sidewalk landmines of feces and urine from shelter-goers.

Community Board 1 member Tom Burrows said he is glad that someone was able to accommodate the homeless men.

“These are guys who were sleeping under the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway and in McGolrick Park,” said Burrows.

The Department of Homeless Services, which tasked the group Common Grounds with running the Greenpoint Reformed Church shelter, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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