The city must replace the shuttered Bay Ridge Job Center with one that is accessible to Southern Brooklynites, demanded locals who rely on the center for more than job-placement.
The Human Resources Administration’s lease expired on the office at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Senator Street — which helped the needy obtain food stamps, job-training, and health insurance — and it closed the center on Oct. 14. The agency opened a replacement job center in Boerum Hill — named the “Southern Brooklyn Job Center,” despite its being Downtown — but that’s not really helping Southern Brooklynites, one aid-seeker said.
“I just came from Manhattan where they told me to go to my local center, so I came here but it’s closed,” said Sunset Parker Peter Quinones who came to the Bay Ridge center on Nov. 2 hoping to be re-certified for food stamps. “So now I guess I have to go to Downtown Brooklyn. I’m wasting all this time traveling, but what can you do? It sucks. Human resources has gotta get more human.”
The office served roughly 100 people per day, according to a Human Resources Administration spokeswoman, who said moving the Southern Brooklyn Job Center four miles north to Boerum Hill would better serve the agency’s clients.
“As we strive to increase access to benefits for New Yorkers in need, Human Resource Administration evaluates the areas where centers are located on an ongoing basis, including looking at where our clients live,” said Lourdes Centeno, a spokeswoman with the agency.
But it likely won’t benefit Bay Ridgites, said one community leader.
“I think that there are many people that are going to be affected by this,” said Josephine Beckmann, the district manager of Community Board 10. “It’s going to be a tough adjustment.”
And people continue to show up at the building not realizing it has closed even though the city said it mailed notices to all active clients. A single notice in English is pinned to one of two entrances to the shuttered center.
“I certainly didn’t know that it was closed,” said Quinones. “It’s unbelievable.”
The city plans to offer some of the job center’s services vicariously through local community groups, but the project is only in the planning stages, according to Centeno. Officials also hope to open an additional Brooklyn center, but she would not say where.
The city should open a temporary center that is more accessible to Southern Brooklynites while it works out a more permanent solution, another client said.
“It’s a large area and it needs to be serviced better,” said Bay Ridgite Alan Robert, who said it was tough trekking Downtown when he visited a job center there. “Its a real hardship for seniors to travel several neighborhoods away, and people using these services don’t have a lot of money — a $5.50 subway fare can be a lot for every time you need to visit a center. The neighborhood needs something here.”
The Southern Brooklyn Job Center [35 Fourth Ave. at Dean Street in Boerum Hill].