Another homeless shelter — just a block away from an existing shelter for women and children — is coming to Plumb Beach. The city says it’s only temporary, but locals are concerned.
Because the new facility on Emmons Avenue is classified as an emergency shelter, the city did not have to go through Community Board 15 for approval.
One local elected official told a meeting of the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association on Oct. 7 that she thinks the loophole is being used to unfairly burden the neighborhood with shelters.
“To me, ‘fair share’ doesn’t mean around the corner from another shelter,” said Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D–East Flatbush). “It should also be spread throughout communities.”
The new shelter is at the corner of Emmons Avenue and Bragg Street. It has a Bragg Street address but residents enter via a walkway from Bringham Street. The facility currently houses 14 families, according to the Department of Homeless Services, but Weinstein said the shelter could potentially have up to 69 families.
Because it is classified as a temporary emergency shelter, the facility — which is still under construction — is only authorized to operate for six months. But Weinstein said the community board is concerned the shelter will become a long-term neighborhood fixture.
“We’ve talked about whether this is a back-door way to get to having something permanent,” she said.
One local said he’s concerned about the shelter’s location because it’s in the riskiest flood zone.
“My first concern was that, why put a shelter in ‘Zone A’ flood zone?” said Tom Paolillo, a board member of the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association. “If there is another storm and they say, ‘Evacuate Zone A,’ now you’ve got to evacuate homeless families, and who is going to do that and where are they going to go?”
But another resident said that regardless of how many families eventually move into the shelter, the community shouldn’t its back on them.
“After Sandy, and our own people being homeless, are you going to deny people who are homeless — or children — from going into an emergency homeless shelter because you don’t like their color or their race or where they came from?” said Barbara Berardelli.
She said because the shelter is inevitable — at least for the next six months — all locals can do is to press the police and elected officials to increase efforts to keep the neighborhood safe, for both the current residents and the new ones.
“You can tell your police, your politicals, that you want that homeless shelter to be kept safe so the abusive ex-husband doesn’t hang out outside — and you want protection for the neighborhood,” Berardelli said. “That’s what you can do.”