This refuge’s neighbors are playing the toking victim.
Park Slope Women’s Shelter residents are luring drug dealers to the neighborhood by smoking weed on the stoops of homes near the facility, charged locals who complained of the alleged habit at a Wednesday community meeting.
“We have shelter residents who are smoking marijuana and they’re sitting on our stoops. That provides a population of buyers and we’re going to have a whole new population of sellers,” said 16th-Street resident Barbara Barran. “This is a very, very deep concern of ours.”
Barran, along with fellow 16th-Street denizens Nelly Isaacson and Laura Ide, organized the gathering of elected officials, cops, shelter workers, and a few dozen neighbors at Eighth Avenue’s Bishop Boardman Apartments, where they discussed the women’s supposed reefer use and other behavioral problems.
Residents of the shelter at 1402 Eighth Ave. between 14th and 15th streets, which serves women battling addiction and mental illness, turned 16th Street between Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West into their own personal drug den about six months ago, according to Barran, who claimed their brazen pot smoking led to other bad behavior.
“Women started stopping into the exercise place on my block asking to use the bathroom, asking for money, urinating in the street, and panhandling in the neighborhood,” the local said.
The recent antics followed years of peaceful coexistence between community and shelter residents, but there’s no mistaking one group for the other because the latter “do tend to stick out,” Barran said.
Representatives from Camba — the social-services provider that has operated the shelter inside the Park Slope Armory since 1996 — said they’ve expanded security patrols on the affected block, but that guards haven’t noticed any illicit activity while on their routines. The absence of visible proof led the facility’s honchos to question the locals’ anecdotal reports, which did not include any hard evidence, according to a Camba rep who spoke at the meeting.
“I have not heard any reports of our staff finding residents in the community smoking pot,” said Claire Harding-Keefe, Camba’s senior vice president. “I would question whether or not it’s our clients.”
And other locals in attendance slammed their neighbors who set up the event for being heartless, claiming the organizers spoke of shelter residents “as though they were criminals” when making their accusations.
“We’re trying to rehabilitate these people, get them into permanent housing, and I think the whole tone of this conversation needs to be a little bit more sympathetic,” said Park Slope resident Richard Bruce.
All parties resolved to communicate more openly by the end of the gathering, and locals received a phone number for the shelter’s director, whom they were encouraged to report future bad behavior to with the promise that security would be sent pronto in order to document and resolve any incident, according to the Camba rep.
“The main point was to let us know in as real time as possible, so that we can go out and see if it is our clients,” Harding-Keefe said.
©2017 Community News Group
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