‘HELP’ no longer on the way! G’point homeless shelter plan is done

Levin still a ‘no’ on HELP USA’s McGuinness shelter
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A controversial proposal for a new homeless shelter in Greenpoint has unraveled.

HELP USA has quietly retreated on Friday from its plan to develop a 200-bed men’s center at a McGuinness Boulevard warehouse in the wake of fierce opposition from neighborhood residents.

The organization’s president, Larry Belinsky, said HELP bailed on the center because of its finances.

“Unfortunately we were unable to reach an agreement regarding the operating budget for the project,” Belinsky wrote to the Department of Homeless Services and Community Board 1. “We are disappointed in this outcome, but we do not believe that we could operate a quality assessment center program at the required budget rate.”

But Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) credited Greenpoint residents who attended community meetings and organized against the shelter as the reason behind the proposal’s failure.

“The community stood strong and united in opposition to this proposal,” said Levin. “I am proud to have worked closely with so many Greenpoint residents to stand up for our community’s right to have a say over what happens in our neighborhood.”

The Manhattan-based transitional housing nonprofit, run by Gov. Cuomo’s sister, first floated the idea to locate a men’s assessment center in Greenpoint in August. The project would provide “comprehensive assessments, support services, and housing placement assistance” to homeless clients referred by the city but would stay at the site for no longer than a month.

Neighborhood residents had been organizing against the shelter proposal because of their concerns about public safety and the project’s failure to address Greenpoint’s homegrown homeless population.

Greenpoint residents welcomed the news.

“This is fantastic news for all of us because all of us were fighting against the shelter,” said CB1 Public Safety Chairman Mieszko Kalita. “It would have been a disaster if it happened. I’m glad they couldn’t find an agreement with the city.”

The future of Greenpoint’s homegrown homeless population remains unclear.