Homeless shelter critics: Building is too little to house 170 men

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Critics of a planned homeless shelter in Carroll Gardens are going to the courts — and they say they can scuttle the project because the proposed site is simply too small.

Opponents of the men’s shelter say the 10-unit W. Ninth Street building cannot legally hold 170 occupants — the number Aguila Incorporated and Housing Solutions USA are calling for under the plan.

“The city’s housing maintenance code prohibits more than three unrelated persons from occupying any dwelling unit,” said Steven Kirkpatrick, an attorney representing shelter opponents under the name the Coalition for Carroll Gardens. “Since the building contains only 10 apartments, the maximum permitted occupancy is 30 unrelated persons.”

Kirkpatrick and the Coalition for Carroll Gardens tried to block the shelter plan by filing for a temporary restraining order against the city and the service providers leasing the building between Court Street and Hamilton Avenue.

A state Supreme Court judge ordered that the building not be used “in violation of applicable laws and requiremen­ts,” but he allowed construction to continue at the site.

Now the courts will determine whether or not a homeless shelter violates those “applicable laws and requiremen­ts.” The next hearing is on Dec. 7.

Critics of the shelter plan view Judge David Schmidt’s minor decision as a big win.

“In many ways we got what we wanted,” said Coalition for Carroll Gardens chair Steven Miller. “Having the order gave us more than we had before because any violation of laws could now subject the wrongdoer to punishment, including imprisonme­nt.”

Representatives from Housing Solutions USA and Aguila Incorporated steered all questions to the Department of Homeless Services, which declined to comment except to say it would not violate any laws.

The controversial plan drew the ire of Community Board 6 — which voted against the plan, 31–1 with three abstentions, on Nov. 14.

Last week, board chair Daniel Kummer blasted the proposal in an open letter to Department of Homeless Services commissioner Seth Diamond, claiming shelter operators have not yet released a formal plan despite numerous requests.

“[W]hen a process is not a process, and when we see the city working with service providers and property owners of questionable fitness to develop contracts under secretive conditions, and when the public is left out of any meaningful and ongoing planning discussions, we believe we have a duty to shine a bright light on the situation and demand change,” wrote Kummer, who claims that although he understands homelessness is a real problem in the city, the shelter belongs somewhere else.

The building was originally slated for luxury condos, but was never occupied until 120 homeless male veterans moved in last month after Hurricane Sandy ravaged their Queens shelter. The vets were out within 10 days.

Many residents contend that the proposal for a long-term homeless shelter is unsafe and unfit for the kid-friendly neighborhood.

“Carroll Gardens is in an absolute uproar about this,” said longtime neighborhood activist Buddy Scotto. “Putting them on this particular block will present an incredible threat.”

Updated 5:37 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to correct the spelling of Steven Kirkpatrick's name. We apologize for the typo.
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Reasonable discourse

ty from pps says:
“Putting them on this particular block will present an incredible threat.”

Yes, that block in particular. Bunch of whiny douches.
Dec. 3, 2012, 12:38 pm
Likko from CGrdns says:
When it's time to send young people in their prime to war everybody goes about their normal routine.
But when it's time to house the vets into their community, the neighborhood goes apesh*t.
You NIMBY'ers should be ashamed of yourselves.
I will never again shop at Fat Cat Wines.
And Landers, you are is a vote whore.
Dec. 3, 2012, 9:29 pm
Sam says:
If it's too small for 170 homeless vets, MAKE IT BIGGER.
Dec. 3, 2012, 9:41 pm
C from Crlgdns says:
Before Sandy the residents of the shelter were not Vets and the residents would stand on the corner all day long. After sandy the vets moved in and we could see a difference. The vets did not loiter on the streets. They did not follow me asking for money.

But regardless, does anyone think having 17 to an apartment is safe?? This doesn't seem like a proper living situation.
Dec. 4, 2012, 2:56 am
OMG from Carroll Gardens says:
We're not all a bunch of NIMBYers. I live on the block and have no problem with a shelter opening. It makes this block safer, since there are people outside.

@ C - The shelter was not up and running until after Sandy. It was temporarily opened so the Vets could have somewhere to stay while their shelter was repaired. If you were seeing people loiter on the corner before Sandy, it had nothing to do with the shelter, since nobody was living there yet.

The guys who were living there were hanging out in the front of the building and to the corner of Court and W 9th, but they weren't bothering anyone.

Maybe 17 people to an apartment isn't safe, but this community group that wants to limit it to 3 per apartment isn't being realistic. A shelter isn't the same as a regular apartment, and doesn't need to be subjected to the same occupancy limits.

The longer this whole thing goes on, the more it seems that these community groups that are hiding behind the banner of living conditions for the people in the shelter, are doing this because they don't want a shelter at all. They're taking donations for their legal team, to help block the shelter from opening.

The neighborhood needs to calm down. This is all part of living in a big city. Once the shelter opens, keep an eye on it. If the shelter isn't being a good neighbor, address the problem.

Stop whining and stop making us all look like idiots.
Dec. 4, 2012, 9:22 am
Resident from CG says:
OMG, while I'm sure that some people don't want a shelter at all, the real problem IS that the people running the shelter planned to have 17 people per room. And the people running the shelter are not doing that out of the goodness of their heart -- they would stand to reap tens of thousands of dollars from city payments for each of those men, despite the fact that having them live in such crowded conditions is far from ideal.

It's obvious that this shelter is to be run to enrich the operators, and any operator who insists that 17 men per apartment is reasonable cares only about wringing every last dollar from the shelter. Trusting those people to run this is naive. Use a bit of common sense -- had the shelter for a few dozen men opened in that space, you'd not hear the kind of community reaction you have here. That shelter operator has no business getting scarce public funds for this.
Dec. 4, 2012, 11:13 am
Architect from CG says:
Safety first ... even vacant, the building poses a threat.

17 toilets and 11 showers are needed for 170 homless men so DOB should perform an audit as there's likely been some illegal renovation to the building.

The lot-line windows make those rooms unfit for sleeping and the community facility space cannot be used for residential use. Only a medical office is allowed on the lower two floors.
Dec. 4, 2012, 4:08 pm
Jeff from Carroll Gardens says:
I don't mind a shelter there and I live across the street.
I just hate that the people operating the shelter are scumb bags and have a history of crime and ——ty dwelling. I'd rather another operator be awarded the bid and use our tax money properly. This was group of criminals using the emergency clause to rape New Yorkers
Dec. 4, 2012, 4:17 pm
Peter from CG says:
If I were a shelter operator who stood to make 6 million dollars a year running a shelter in a building that if rented out as ten apartments and medical office space would rent for only one tenth as much, I would have shills write comments supporting it.
Dec. 4, 2012, 6:13 pm
Wake Up from CG says:
Do the people supporting the shelter operator in the comments here realize that it is run by a convicted felon who hired gangs to harass tenants in his buildings until they moved out and a few even died as a result?

wake up people
Dec. 5, 2012, 11:28 pm

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