Mayor: Slope shelter on the way

Beds and beyond: Mayor DeBlasio says a 250-bed shelter is coming to the Park Slope area.
Community News Group / Julianne Cuba

Mayor DeBlasio will bring a 250-bed homeless shelter to the greater Park Slope area as the city prepares to end the its dealings with a Gowanus Super 8 hotel currently providing refuge for 172 dispossessed locals.

The mayor announced the new shelter on April 21 during his weekly appearance on Brian Lehrer’s WNYC radio show, when he responded to an irate caller who claimed the city was stuffing low-income, minority communities with homeless shelters, while giving gentrified Park Slope a free pass.

“Every community has to be part of the solution,” the mayor responded. “In fact, the community board I come from, Community Board 6 in Brooklyn, under our plan, will see an increase in homeless shelter capacity to align to the number of people who come from the community board who are in our shelter system.”

The city later confirmed that a new 250-bed homeless facility is planned for the Community Board 6 area — which also includes Gowanus, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and the Columbia Waterfront District — with a site for the planned shelter to be announced sometime in the next few years.

Between the district’s women’s shelter in the historic Park Slope Armory, and the Third Avenue Super 8 hotel that Department of Homeless services rents out for the homeless, the city can provide beds for 282 homeless.

But that’s not enough to house the 347 homeless people from the community, 163 of which have to be shipped off to shelters throughout the city due to overflow, according to homeless services spokesman Isaac McGinn.

The mayor’s shelter initiative — which calls for 90 new shelters to open throughout the city and an end to the use of hotels as overflow shelters — is tailored in large part to ensure homeless people aren’t packed off to distant neighborhoods, and that local facilities are sufficient to keep them close to family, friends, and area support groups, according to DeBlasio spokeswoman Jaclyn Rothenberg.

“Our plan gives our homeless neighbors, who come from every community in New York City, the opportunity to be sheltered closer to their support networks and home communities,” said Rothenberg. “The mayor’s neighborhood of Park Slope has a need for space and will of course be playing a role in this citywide responsibility.”

But that policy will require more shelters open in low-income neighborhoods with large homeless populations, and locals there have a moral obligation to accept the company of their less-fortunate neighbors, DeBlasio said.

“Being in your own community is the best way to do it,” DeBlasio told Lehrer.

So far, the city has announced five new shelters, including one in Prospect Heights that is currently serving women with special needs.

The city hasn’t revealed its plan for the Community Board 6 shelter to the group’s honchos, and is only required to provide 30-days notice before the shelter opens its doors, McGinn said.

But the community is ready and willing to do its part to help house the city’s homeless, according to Community Board 6 Chairman Sayar Lonial.

“Homelessness is a huge problem and there’s no other way to say it except that everyone is going to have to chip in to solve the problem,” Lonial said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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