Planned Flatbush homeless shelter moves forward after delay

homeless shelter in flatbush
The planned site for the shelter.

A planned homeless shelter in Flatbush is on track for a 2022 completion after multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Located at a currently-empty plot of land at 21 Duryea Pl. near Flatbush Avenue, the haven for the unhoused will be operated by service provider Black Veterans for Social Justice — an organization that manages numerous other shelters around the Five Boroughs with a hands-on approach aimed at lifting residents back on their feet, a rep told members of local Community Board 14. 

“Clients do not lay around,” said Jelani Mashariki on Oct. 21. “They are actively involved in the services we provide on a daily basis.”

The refuge will provide temporary housing for 200 men, who will stay at the shelter for an average of 90 to 120 days before they are placed in permanent housing, according to Mashariki.

The shelter will share Duryea Place with a facility that houses people with mental illness, along with a loading dock of Kings Theatre, whose entrance is around the corner — leading some community members to speculate that it would be too much for the small block to handle, and that interactions between the three entities could be troublesome. 

“While residents all over the city have a responsibility towards our brothers and sisters who are street homeless, this is a lot to bear on this particular community,” said board member Shawn Campbell. 

The general manager at Kings Theatre added her worries that shelter residents may pester theatre-goers while they stand in line.

“We already have issues with panhandling and harassment, instances of inappropriate activity,” said Stephanie Tomlin. “We’re certainly hopeful that will not be the case this time around.” 

Tomlin added that, though the theater has concerns, they were committed to being good neighbors to the shelter. 

“We are committed to being good partners, and giving you the support that you need,” she said. “We just ask that you play nicely in the sandbox.”

For his part, Mashariki tried to assuage the fears with commitments to employing security guards along their perimeter, mandating a 10 pm curfew — and saying that residents would be required to live by their “good neighbor policy.” 

“If we see clients are hanging out and we can identify that it’s our clients, we engage them and let them know we have a good neighbor policy,” he said. “Residents understand that though this is temporary housing, they are being temporarily housed in a community, and we want to be benefits to the community and not issues.”