Pols blast DHS for Bed-Stuy homeless shelter transfers

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the DHS needs to get its act together to prepare for the influx of homeless men during the winter months.
Photo by Ben Verde

Elected officials blasted the Department of Homeless Services on Tuesday for their role in the forced relocations of more than 100 women from a Bedford Stuyvesant homeless shelter.  

“This is not safe,” said Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D—Fort Greene). “We do not support this movement, this movement should not happen in our community.”

The female residents at the shelter — on Lexington Avenue between Classon and Franklin avenues — are being forced to pack up and vacate as part of a city scheme to accommodate 103 homeless men with mental health issues. 

The women will be relocated to other shelters scattered across the five boroughs — including as far as the Bronx and uptown Manhattan. 

Making matters worse, the residents — and the area’s elected leaders — only learned of the transfers just two days before they were underway, according to Cumbo, who blasted the Department of Homeless Services for lacking transparency.  

“That is undermining my leadership, that is undermining the safety of the community,” she said.

The Lexington Avenue shelter is operated BRC, who say they don’t want the transfers to be made either, but are powerless against the city.Photo by Caroline Ourso

Cumbo claims to have spoken to high ranking officials of Mayor de Blasio’s administration about the shoddy transfers — including Department of Human Resources Commissioner Stephen Banks, who oversees the Department of Homeless Services — but made no headway on reversing the plan.

“I have had a heated conversation with Commissioner Banks about this,” said Cumbo. “When the heat didn’t go the way that I wanted it to go — I begged.”

Keiko Niccolini (far left) with her daughter Rayas, and Angela McCall. Niccolini is petitioning for the changes to be called off.Photo by Caroline Ourso

City housing honchos claim that the transfers are necessary to accommodate an “at risk population” of homeless men — who are particularly vulnerable during the colder months, as this newspaper reported last week.

A Department of Homeless Services spokesperson did not immediately answer the Brooklyn Paper’s questions about strategical comparisons between this winter and previous cold-seasons.

Despite the opposition, residents continue to be relocated, including six residents who were driven away fifteen minutes before Tuesday’s rally began, according to locals.

A petition demanding the transfers be stopped has garnered over 1,200 signatures as of Tuesday.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams pointed to the last minute displacements as evidence that the department lack of preparedness for the inevitable colder months. 

“If we know that there is a spike every winter, why don’t we have a plan to make sure this doesn’t happen?” he asked.