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No shelter: Park Slopers blast plan to open new homeless shelters on Fourth Avenue

Park Slopers routinely booed Christine Quinn at a meeting to discuss two Park Slope homeless shelters.
Brooklyn Paper
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A city scheme to house homeless families within a pair of Fourth Avenue residential developments was met with outrage during a public meeting at Seventh Avenue’s John Jay Educational Campus on May 1, where locals shouted, heckled, and booed at presenters from the Department of Homeless Services and its chosen operator for the upcoming refuge.

And it’s not because they don’t like homeless people — they’re just not willing to pay developers to house them, according to one Park Slope man.

“You want to pit the working class people of this city against the homeless,” said Bo Samajopoulos. “This is not about the homeless people — Brand Lander and [Mayor] Bill de Blasio are bailing out developers.”

Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander organized the meeting to discuss the city’s plan to install shelters in buildings at 535 and 555 Fourth Ave. slated to open this fall. The properties were originally built as market-rate rentals, before officials at the Department of Homeless Services worked out a deal with developers to house destitute families there.

The neighboring shelters will be run by nonprofit shelter operator Win and will feature a combined 253 units, along with childcare services and programs designed to help get down-and-out New Yorkers back on their feet and into permanent housing.

Both buildings will feature 24-hour security and surveillance, and will be offered exclusively to families, with the majority of residents expected to be women and children, according to Jackie Bray, first deputy commissioner at the Department of Homeless Services.

At the meeting, questions about the shelters’ effect on property values were quick to arise, with one Park Slope resident asking why the refuges couldn’t be sited in a less gentrified area.

“Why are the shelters being taken out of areas now marked for gentrification, like Sunset Park, and moved into areas that have already been gentrified,” asked Father Joe DeVincenzo.

Another woman asked about what effect the shelter’s pint-sized residents would have on local schools, claiming nearby PS 124 is already near capacity.

Bray, Lander, and former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who now serves as Win’s chief executive officer, struggled to address concerns expressed by residents as their audience at the packed high school auditorium shouted over them, and Quinn in particular was routinely drowned out by a chorus of boos.

The Homeless Services official claimed there’s “zero research” showing shelters reduce property values, and said the city bases its decision to site a shelter in a community based on the number of existing shelters there and its current population of homeless residents.

Lander addressed concerns about school overcrowding, saying he would work with city agencies and local school leaders to ensure there was space for the kids, but noted that many shelter kids tend to stick with whatever schools they’re already attending.

Beyond that, the properties were always planned for residential use, and would have likely attracted more students to local schools had they opened as market-rate rentals, although nobody made an issue of it until the shelters were announced, according to Lander.

“Both those buildings have been in construction for quite a while, and no one had brought any concerns about the capacity of the schools,” he said.

One Park Sloper scorned his neighbors, describing them as faux liberals for their harsh criticism of the city’s shelter plan.

“I must say to my neighbors who claim to be progressive, and post signs on their windows supporting Syrian refugees, if you’re against homeless people coming into our neighborhood, your against homeless people,” said Joel Berg.

Many locals did express support for the shelter, including one man who asked what community members could do to support shelter residents.

Quinn suggested volunteering during Win events for kids, including the shelter operator’s summer-camp program, in addition to wrapping free gifts for kids come Christmas time.

The audience would eventually boo her before she could finish describing opportunities to help the shelter residents.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 12:00 pm, May 24, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

concerned from Greenwood says:
why does a priest care about property values?
May 6, 11:13 am
Elliott from Sunset Park says:
The city has to fairly distribute shelters throughout the city, perhaps one for every community board. Sunset Park already has 6 hotels being used as “temporary” housing as well as permanent shelters. One of the concerns here was that DeBlasio’s own neighborhood didn’t have any homeless housing. If you have been fortunate enough to buy a house for $200k that is now worth $3 million, you should have some empathy for those at the other end of the housing lottery, like a hardworking family whose rent went from $800 to an unaffordable $3000.
May 6, 12:16 pm
Gabe from Sunset Park says:
Elliott said it best - Sunset Park already has hotels used as homeless shelters (at least 2 more under construction) with zero community notice or oversight. Our elected officials have done a horrible job monitoring them and ensuring the community isn't a dumping ground for hotels. Sunset Park has done more than its fair share already, this priest doesn't know what he's talking about.
May 6, 12:27 pm
Native New Yorker from Bed-Stuy says:
"... questions about the shelters’ effect on property values were quick to arise, with one Park Slope resident asking why the refugees couldn’t be sited in a less gentrified area." Since when are the homeless classified as refugees??
May 6, 1:51 pm
Mike from Park Slope says:
I attended the meeting last week and non of the representatives from DHS, Win or even our local Councilman were willing to share the estimated cost to the tax payers. I guess they didn't think it was important. The tax payers are bailing out a developer at a premium cost. In the open market this developer would never operate at 100% occupancy. There needs to be a full story on this developer and the numerous construction violations associated with these two buildings. Also, I'm interested to know how this lucrative deal so conveniently became available. Will this Developer pay taxes on this property? There was an elderly couple at the meeting who's house was significantly damage because of this massive construction. There should be a story on that, so we can support them. I walked by one the buildings yesterday and there was another stop work order issued... I am pro helping the homeless, but to have two buildings of that size concentrated on one street will definitely impact the neighborhood. Adding 700 people of similar economic and social background will definitely have an impact regardless of race, gender or culture. Please stop dancing around the reality and facts. The only reference that they could provide of operating a building of this size is in East NY. They would not provide the audience with the exact address. This is the equivalent to me saying, this worked somewhere, so don't worry it will work here. I think it would have been helpful to share real data from the unspecified location in East NY. Overtaking a neighborhood is completely different than joining. Unfortunately, these abrasive tactics will continue to divide our people rather than unify.The people currently living in this community and most impacted by this decision were not included in conversation upfront, it was more of a "by the way" type of situation. At the end of the day I hope it all works out. The homeless mothers and children get the support they need, and the state provides the various communities with the support it needs to adapt to the new norm.
May 6, 2:43 pm
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
concerned from Greenwood "why does the priest have concerns about property values?" You obviously are not Catholic and don't attend church. Apparently the residents in this community are all for the homeless as long as they are homeless someplace else. It's also interesting that gentrification often results in whole families becoming homeless. Estimated 60,000 homeless in New York City and when the public housing becomes unlivable due to neglect from the city, that estimate will surely rise substantially.
May 6, 2:49 pm
O Henry from Bay Ridge says:
Look at all the phony progressives showing their true colors. It’s about time you reap the benefits of your policies.
May 6, 2:54 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
We need more homeless shelters in Bay Ridge. It's the Christian way. #Blessed
May 6, 3:57 pm
concerned from Greenwood says:
I was raised Catholic and attended an all-boys Catholic high school but I reject the religion now. The child abuse scandal made me draw the line and I cannot support Catholicism. That's just me. And guess what? I already live on a block with a homeless sheleter! It's on 24th St. between 3rd and 4th Avenue. Was supposed to be a Howard Johnson but that never happened. It's a much smaller building than the ones on 4th Avenue that are going up. It hasn't affect our property value or our lifestyle. My opinion, these buildings are too large to be shelters.
May 6, 4:16 pm
Alex from Park Slope says:
The concern I have and I live on the block, and I think most have, is that these 2 buildings are giant developments relative to the neighborhood that NO ONE ever wanted - whether luxury apts or homeless shelters - with shoddy construction already a burden on residents for years, dealing with closed streets, scaffolding, lack of parking, etc. While it is hard enough to have a huge influx of people generally, it is very hard to understand how the immediate community will be able to support 255 new units as a homeless shelter for two blocks. If you actually go to see the buildings you will understand how crazy this is. And there are some homeless shelters in Park Slope, just not 12 story block long buildings like these because there aren't almost any buildings like these elsewhere in the neighborhood save for new developments on 4th avenue (that no one likes).
May 6, 4:27 pm
Gracie Manson from UES says:
I hope they open prisons and homeless shelters in all the best neighborhoods! You losers voted for all these ‘progressive’ DemonRats, you get what you deserve! Looks like all the SJW bleeding hearts are getting a taste of their policies! I’m still waiting for all the Lezzie couples to start housing Muslim immigrants, fools
May 6, 4:37 pm
Roman from Coney Island says:
Please build a shelter on the same block where mayor De Blasio has a house in Park slope, I want to see expression on his face.
May 6, 5:34 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
This article is not reflective of the truth. Park Slope already has a shelter and supportive housing. These politicans and ex-politicans are using the sympathy and need for building shelters, and the moral imperative, to cover up their bailout of a failed developer who has paid to play. Being generous, this is a good deed built on corruption. The shelters the mayor promised were suppose to be designed and built, not a conversion of a failed condo development, affording a tax paid bailout to the developer. The awful truth is only corruption works in NYC, helping one group at the expense of another. And does anyone think they will come through with services promised for these homeless families? You would have to be a real jerk to believe this government action is done purely for people in need.
May 6, 6:25 pm
Wilbur D. Horse from Boro 5 says:
Christine Quinn, City Hall insider now profiting from her connections, came to SI with her hand-wringing social worker act. She predictably accused Caucasian opponents, of her WIN shelter, of being racists. Meanwhile, within 1000 feet of her now-approved WIN cash cow, there are TWO homeless shelters. There are no shelters on the South Shore of Staten Island, though.
May 7, 6:31 am
Integrate--don't warehouse--our homeless neighbors from Gowanus says:
5 points: 1) Brad Lander, Jo Anne Simon, DHS and WIN are still not being open and transparent. 2) This will be Brad Lander's legacy, whether it succeeds or fails. 3) This is a reward of epic proportions for Adam American and Slate Property Group, two of the worst developers in the city. 4) This project fails to integrate people experiencing homelessness into Park Slope. This out-of-scale project--the largest residential project in the area--will warehouse people in the farthest and least affluent corner of the neighborhood. 5) The leaders of this project, including Brad Lander and Christine Quinn, are hypocritical. Brad Lander speaks about this being his neighborhood, but he sent his children to other schools. Christine Quinn fought against a far-smaller shelter in her own neighborhood. Her argument: that smaller shelter was still too large. Details: 1) Brad Lander, Jo Anne Simon, DHS and WIN are still not being open and transparent. The meeting was a disaster: two hours of dodging questions, avoiding answers and telling us that they would get back to the community with answers. It has been three weeks since Brad Lander snuck this news out on a Thursday night before a holiday weekend and we still don't have a single straight answer about how Lander, DHS or WIN is planning to help PS124. Brad Lander recognized his massive miscalculation in trying to run the meeting under the radar and is now promising an "FAQ" that will answer questions that should have been answered at the meeting. Where is it? 2) This will be Brad Lander's legacy, whether it succeeds or fails. No one will remember some artificial grass or some drinking fountains at parks in the rich parts of his district. They will remember this project. 3) This is a reward of epic proportions for Adam American and Slate Property Group, two of the worst developers in the city. The city is guaranteeing them 100% occupancy at extremely high rents, instantly renting every unit in both buildings, and guaranteeing that it will stay at 100% occupancy for many years despite a track record of dangerous construction and injured workers. The list of Class 1 (Immediately Hazardous) building violations on these buildings stretches for pages on the DOB website. 535 Fourth Avenue suffered a partial collapse and structural concrete issues that required them to partially demolish and rebuild the building. On Wednesday, we heard the emotional plea from a neighbor of 555 Fourth Avenue whose home--where he has lived for decades--has been destroyed by these developers. 4) This is not about integrating people experiencing homelessness into Park Slope. This out-of-scale project--the largest residential project in the area--will warehouse people in the farthest and least affluent corner of the neighborhood. Residents of this massive project will not attend schools with the rich kids at PS321, they will all be crammed into PS124. Lander should treat people experiencing homelessness with dignity and integrate permanent affordable housing throughout our entire community. Make these buildings part affordable, part market rate and do the same all over the rich parts of Park Slope. 5) The leaders of this project, including Brad Lander and Christine Quinn, are hypocritical. Brad Lander speaks about this being his neighborhood, but he sent his children to other schools. Christine Quinn fought against a far-smaller shelter in her own neighborhood. Her argument: that smaller shelter was still too large.
May 7, 9:37 am
Maybeliene says:
The problem is that many of them don’t even want homes - they prefer the wild lifestyle.
May 7, 10:15 am
humanitarian from sunset park from sunset park / borough park /brooklyn says:
we looked up the complaints and violations at nyc.gov (public info) for these 2 buildings and lo and behold, 535 4th ave has 54 complaints of class 1 and class 2 which are 1=immediately hazardous, and 2=major hazard. 555 4th ave has a partial stop work order with 23 complaints and 11 violations. gee, i wonder how anyone housed here will fare? i feel sorry for them
May 7, 11:44 am
BKmama from Gowanus says:
Slate and Adam America are the same developers that were set to convert Rivington House from a nursing home into luxury condos because a big donor to the mayoral campaign pressured the city to lift a deed restriction. The community board organized, the City Comptroller & State AG investigated. The mayor said he made a mistake. Now, Rivington House is being leased by Slate to Mount Sinai for 30 years. Is DHS leasing these two buildings a quid pro quo?
May 7, 2:16 pm
South Slope resident from South Slope says:
This is insane. How these two buildings got a lucrative city contract is beyond me, and everyone else in the neighborhood. It's bad enough they've had multiple violations and have disrupted our lives for the past several years, but to think that filling two blocks with homeless people is going to help anyone's situation is wishful thinking, especially when the city hasn't been able to fix the basic problems confronting the neighborhood. The city was supposed to be making attempts to improve dingy 4th Avenue, but there are few stores (a hookah shop) or restaurants (actually, one), and no grocers or places to buy food in the area. Something funny seems to be going on to suddenly decide to turn these behemoths into homeless shelters and announce it at the final hour, especially when it seems to be better for all (including those they are trying to help) to put them in smaller buildings so they can integrate with the community, rather than in huge slab structures. I live in the area and don't have a problem with facilities to help and house the homeless that are on a reasonable scale, but these are massive buildings and I fear the city services will decline over time, as interest in helping them wanes, as often houses in public housing. The "deal" that took to make this happen should be investigated.
May 7, 3:50 pm
Juan Santiago from Sunset Park, Mexican Division says:
Christine Quinn is a commie pig like Diblasio, Letitia James, AOC and all the rest of em!
May 7, 6:14 pm
A Sunset Parker from Sunset Park says:
and still development continues on 4th Avenue and new "hotels" on 39th street.
May 8, 8:41 am
Living In Greenwood from Greenwood/ Sunset Park says:
I'm disgusted by the Priests rational that it is OK to continue to overwhelm less wealthy neighborhoods like Sunset Park/ Greenwood Heights, which already have at least 7 (and several more being built) hotels being used as shelters. At a cost of $161 per night per room. These hotels are making millions from the city each year though a loop hole that does not need any community notification The implication that Park Slope should not have to also bear some responsibility for the cities homeless problem because they are already gentrified (i.e wealthy) is repulsive. We also in this community have invested our life savings in our home. We also need it to maintain it's value so that we can some day retire. We have 1 homeless shelter on the block north of us, 1 on the southern block and 1 two blocks from our home. We have 2 more "hotels" being built within 2 blocks. When has this community pulled it's weight when Park Slope shouldn't have to help because they are gentrified? I believe all communities should help and I believe that shelter for all people is necessary and invaluable. But there needs to be a better way than massive amounts of "hotels" and shelters in a single community.
May 12, 6:07 pm
Me from here from Park Slope says:
I wonder if these buildings will house the thousands of refugees coming over the border. After all, NYC is a sanctuary city!
May 12, 7:12 pm
Lula from Brooklyn says:
They should be thinking about appropriate support for PS124. Decades ago Roosevelt Island has one of the best public schools in the city. Then the city converted a large portion of the housing on the island to accommodate homeless/extremely low income families. The schools floundered because the students from these families needed a level of support that that school had previously never had to offer. The DoE, as usual, was slow to respond. The schools never recovered. When you add 700 homeless families to a single school zone, you need to make plans but it sounds like they are pretending it will be a non-issue. This is a very bad idea.
May 18, 7:37 am
Brad from Cobble Hill says:
Why do people in Park Slope keep voting for Brad Lander? As far as I can tell, all he does is tell you you are terrible people who need to carry more, pay more, repent more. I grew up poor, and I am amazed how hard the city and guys like Lander want to make it for anyone middle class to stay in the city. 4th Avenue is not where the rich people in Park Slope live.
May 18, 7:49 am
Max from South Slope says:
Yes, most of the politician say they care about improving 4th Avenue, then allow ugly hi-rises to go up with no plan for filling in the retail spaces, or making the street look nicer. Don't know how PS 124 is going to absorb a few hundred more kids. But as previous commenters pointed out, the people making these decisions live in the upscale parts of Park Slope and obviously don't care about those of us on the outskirts. Still unsure why someone (like a major newspaper) isn't delving deeper into how 2 buildings, that were zoned for one thing, and the developers were facing a host of issues and problems, were suddenly rescued by the city, paying market-based rents for every. single. unit. Hmmmm...
May 20, 7:16 am
Paul from Bensonhurst says:
I am the executor for an estate property near the 2 buildings now slated for the homeless. One of the city officials was quoted as saying " there is zero research" that this would negatively impact property values. Doesn't this also mean that there is zero research that it won't lower property values? I'l give you some facts. We had 2 offers on our property. One party lowered their offer by $300,000 and the other withdrew their offer entirely and gave the homeless shelters as the reason!
July 30, 10:41 pm

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