Levin says no to McGuinness shelter

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

A plan to convert an occupied industrial loft on the corner of McGuinness Boulevard and Clay Street into a 200-bed men’s shelter would not help the local population and only bring more problems to the neighborhood, the area’s councilman told the city this week.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) told the Department of Homeless Services that the proposal by the Manhattan-based HELP USA “fails to address Greenpoint’s current homeless population.”

“Greenpoint already has a significant homeless population that is unique and made up primarily of Polish-speaking chronic public inebriates who frequently have deep roots in the community,” Levin told Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond in a letter this week. “Unfortunately, the proposed shelter does not seek to address the homeless population in Greenpoint, but rather will introduce 200 more homeless men to the neighborhood.”

City officials declined to comment on Levin’s opposition. HELP USA also did not return a call.

Community members first learned about the proposal on Aug. 10, when the nonprofit’s CEO Larry Belinsky wrote to Community Board 1 Chairman Chris Olechowski informing him of the proposal to operate a transitory residence in Greenpoint.

Olechowski set up a public hearing, but HELP USA skipped it. Instead, the organization reached out to Levin, inviting him to tour a women’s shelter in Brownsville in October. Aftwards, Levin said he still had his reservations about the proposed Greenpoint location.

“The proposed location is isolated from most of the amenities and active street life of the community and is located on one of the most dangerous thoroughfares in Brooklyn,” said Levin. “I believe that requiring the temporary residents of this assessment shelter to traverse McGuinness Boulevard every day in order to shop, travel and work would present an unnecessary danger to these residents.”

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