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Shelter helter skelter

Multi-use facility: The Lyghthouse Inn on Emmons Avenue is both a motel and a homeless shelter.
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

The emergency homeless shelter that opened in Plumb Beach in October is infuriating residents who are still displaced from Hurricane Sandy.

One local said placing a shelter in one of the city’s most notorious flood zones is hypocritical, because the city has put up red tape for local superstorm survivors who have tried to move back into their waterfront homes.

“They can’t go back into their homes but the city turns around and puts a homeless shelter right on the water,” said Kathy Flynn, the president of the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association.

Flynn said that locating the shelter on the Sheepshead Bay waterfront doesn’t just insult displaced local families, but also endangers the people it is meant to help.

“The neighborhood’s attitude is, yes, we do feel sorry for people who are homeless, because all of us were homeless for a while — and we understand that they need some place to live — but is it worth it to endanger them by putting them in the flood zone?”

The Department of Homeless Services said the agency would evacuate shelter residents if another storm threatens the area.

“In the event of the hurricane or another Sandy, we would move our families to safety in the same way families in Plumb Beach would move to safety,” said Christopher Miller, from the Department of Homeless Services.

The family shelter — one of 23 new emergency shelters recently opened across the city — is located in a section of the Lyghthouse Inn on Emmons Avenue, just one block away from an existing shelter for women and children, according to elected officials.

Flynn said she is also worried by the cramped conditions in the 8-by-10-foot rooms and worried that children will stray into the rough waters nearby.

“There is a waterfront there with rocks leading to the water. There is nothing — no kind of barrier there — and there are a lot of young children in this building,” she said.

Locals are particularly concerned about children being housed in an active motel which has a reputation as a destination for illicit assignations.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) said he stopped by the Lyghthouse Inn office to ask a question when the shelter first opened, and witnessed patrons renting rooms by the hour.

This paper called the motel and confirmed that it rents rooms for four-hour intervals for $60.

Another elected official, who said she is going to continue fighting to remove the site from the neighborhood, alluded to similar promiscuous activity and said the Department of Homeless Services told her it was unaware of the alleged activity at the motel.

“They weren’t aware of the Lyghthouse, they weren’t aware of its clientele, shall we say,” said Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D–East Flatbush). “We are continuing to raise objections until we get all the answers — and the answers that we like.”

The Department of Homeless Services did not respond to question about the alleged lewd acts said to occur in the motel section of the Lyghthouse Inn.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Drowning danger: Residents said they are upset that the city hasn’t installed a barrier or a fence to prevent the children who live at the shelter from falling into the water.
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

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