City may swap Sunset Park ‘homeless hotels’ with permanent shelters

Solutions, not shelters: More than 200 people from across the city came out on Oct. 15 to the Sunset Park rally against hotels in the area housing the homeless, and criticized local politicians for their lack of action in the issue.
Brooklyn Paper
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Sunset Park could see a boom in shelters as the city scales back its use of homeless hotels.

Mayor DeBlasio aims to move the indigent out of more than 2,000 hotel rooms the city has been renting on a month-by-month basis and replace the lost units with 90 new shelters, prioritizing nabes with a lack of homeless services, according to a new plan by the city.

But the plan warns that neighborhoods crammed with inns temporarily housing the itinerants — such as Sunset Park — should expect new shelters nearby to take their place. And locals who have slammed the city for warehousing hundreds of homeless in Sunset Park hotels are outraged that the nabe will now being targeted to host permanent shelters.

“When I heard the proposal, I couldn’t believe it,” said Delvis Valdes, an activist with the group Village of Sunset Park. “How is it possible that Sunset Park has been saddled with five homeless hotels — de facto shelters — and now they’re trying to give us more? Every neighborhood should be benefited and burdened by city facilities, and if they’re saying they want to have a more equal distribution, than why would we get more shelters?”

Sunset Park only has one official homeless shelter — a controversial home for single men on 49th Street between Second and Third avenues — but last year the city’s Department of Homeless Services began quietly renting rooms in five area inns without alerting locals, according to Community Board 7 district manager Jeremy Laufer.

The nabe accounts for less than two percent of the city’s population, but the 209 hotel rooms that the city has booked in Sunset Park account for 10 percent of all the units that house the city’s homeless, according to city data. On average, rooms house two or three people, meaning between 400 and 600 homeless are living in Sunset Park hotels, according to a city rep at a meeting of CB7’s ad hoc Committee on Homelessness on Jan. 5.

Hizzoner’s new plan aims to pare down the city’s whopping 57,500 homeless by 2,500 by the end of 2021, and stop using hotels to house the homeless by 2023. The units will be replaced by 90 new shelters opened over the next five years — 25 through new construction — with a focus on distributing them more evenly throughout the city, according to the report.

Amongst the new shelters, 20 will roll out in 2017 and 20 in 2018. At the moment, four are slated for Brooklyn, two in Crown Heights, one in Prospect Heights, and on in Coney Island, according to a spokesman with the Department of Homeless Services.

The agency did not respond to questions on where in Sunset Park the city aims to open shelters, when the shelters are expect to open, and whether any of the hotels where the city rents rooms for homeless will be converted into shelters. The lack of information is just more of the same, said one local.

“I think shelters and homeless hotels have honestly just become an inescapable part of Sunset Park that they throw on us with little info,” said lifelong Sunset Parker Silvia Velasquez, who lives near what was supposed to be a Howard Johnson hotel but is now renting 41 rooms to transients. “We’ve fought the city on this tooth and nail, and even when the city says it will stop using hotels, in some way, shape, or form, Sunset Park always seems to be back on the table for homeless facilities.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

The Truth says:
Illegal immigrants protesting to keep American homeless people from getting a roof over their heads. This is just disgusting. Send them back to South America and suddenly there will be lots of houses available.
March 6, 2017, 6:14 am
Tyler from pps says:
What's really sad is that there is a shocking number of people that have ridiculously irrational thoughts like "The Truth" had above. It's more like an epileptic seizure than actual thinking; meanwhile we wonder how Trump became president...
March 6, 2017, 10:30 am
Pat from Greenwood says:
the local council person remains silent and ineffective on this issue...
March 6, 2017, 12:14 pm
Robert Moses from Hell says:
What's really sad is that Tyler from affluent Prospect Park South feels he must comment on working class areas like Sunset Park and Bay Ridge which he clearly knows nothing about. Maybe he should read the section on Sunset Park in Robert Caro's "The Power Broker" to find out how the city government started the destruction of a solid neighborhood back in the late '40s.
March 6, 2017, 12:32 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Robert Moses -- I didn't "comment on working class areas like Sunset Park," I commented on the first comment in the comment section. If you don't see how The Truth's comments are irrational, well... there you go.
March 6, 2017, 4:33 pm
Virginia says:
Tyler, your arrogance is apparent.
March 6, 2017, 5:46 pm
Morris from Mill Basin says:
Tyler, those who criticize you need to be killed, as painfully as possible. You are a good person and it's a shame people who are not good are walking around with their heads still on their heads and still breathing. But they will get theirs soon enough, the worthless pieces of excrement!
March 6, 2017, 7:14 pm
Nick from Sunset Park says:
The city technically came in and saved over-zealous hotel developers who would not have been able to retain a profitable occupancy in their hotels at the time. This was a number of years ago and fortunes in the neighborhood have changed and I would imagine a condo developer keen on doing hotel to condo conversions could sweep any numbers of those properties up. The addition of permanent homeless shelters to replace the temporary housing in sunset park should be a non-starter but as is typical nyc fashion, when your councilman is busy enjoying the trappings of his new position, decisions are made without your input... As a suggestion to mayor, I hear 725 5th avenue in Manhattan has some vacancies. As they already allow for all manner of slime to inhabit it, housing the homeless within the building may actually bring morality and a glimpse of the real problems occurring in this country rather than the stream of consciousness rambling we receive from the buildings most famous occupant.
March 6, 2017, 7:59 pm
Beth from Sunset PArk from Sunset Park says:
Not everyone living in Sunset Park is protesting shelters and housing the homeless in our community. I welcome any way the city can house people in need. If they come to our community, we should be generous and open to give the help they need.
Dec. 21, 2017, 1:34 pm

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