Helter shelter! Now McGuinness Blvd building may become a halfway house

Levin still a ‘no’ on HELP USA’s McGuinness shelter
A group called Help USA wants to build a homeless shelter along McGuinness Boulevard at Clay Street in Greenpoint.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A controversial shelter may be coming to Greenpoint after all — and it may be even worse than the original plan.

A city hotelier bought a McGuinness Boulevard loft building that was previously slated to become a homeless shelter — and his plan is to turn the site into a halfway house for convicted felons, sources said.

New owner Shimmie Horn not only owns luxury boutique hotels in Manhattan, but also several single-room-occupancy lodges in the city and once ran a Florida correctional services business, which operates facilities for formerly incarcerated individuals.

It’s unclear what Horn’s plan is for the McGuinness Boulevard building; a source said that it is unlikely that he would run a shelter there.

HELP USA, which had hoped to run a men’s homeless shelter, withdrew its bid last month amid heavy protests, citing a lack of funding to operate the site properly.

The Department of Homeless Services remains strongly interested in bringing a shelter to the McGuiness Boulevard loft building and helped lure Horn to buy the site for $4 million, sources said.

The building’s tenants were bought out for nearly $600,000, ending a protracted negotiation that lasted almost six months — and clearing the way for a new proposal in the now-vacant building.

Community leaders were livid that the plan may be revived.

“It’s an even bigger problem” than HELP USA’s assessment center and vowed to fight it, said Community Board 1 Public Safety Committee Chairman Mieszko Kalita.

“People [being served] are coming out of federal prison with offenses for murder, drugs — the big stuff,” said Kalita. “They didn’t just steal hubcaps from some car on the street.”

Horn could not be reached for comment before our lockdown deadline.

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