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Park nope: Park Slope residents create petition to protest planned family shelters

Sign of scorn: Locals created a petition to protest two homeless shelters planned for Fourth Avenue.
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More than 200 people have signed a petition protesting the city’s plan to open homeless shelters at two neighboring Park Slope developments, hoping to rally enough community opposition to persuade the city to call off the shelter plan before finalizing its agreement with the properties’ owner.

“The whole idea is to be able to rally enough people to say we are not okay with this decision and that we should reconsider it,” said Shruti Kapoor, who published the petition on Change.org Sunday on behalf of residents in her Fourth Avenue condominium, who have banded together as the Fourth Avenue Committee.

The city announced its plan earlier this month to open shelters in the fall at neighboring properties being built at 535 and 555 Fourth Ave., which would feature a combined 253 units, and offer childcare services, along with programs designed to help New Yorkers — predominantly women and children — find permanent housing.

At a public meeting hosted by Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander on May 1, the legislator told locals that the city had exceeded its commitment to provide 30-days notice of shelter openings by several months.

But many locals said they were caught off guard by the shelter announcement, and the audience repeatedly booed presenters, including Jackie Bray, first deputy commissioner at the Department of Homeless Services, and former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who heads up the non-profit organization that will operate the shelters, called Win.

The petition states locals have serious concerns about the density of the proposed shelters, although Lander noted earlier this month that the two buildings — originally intended as market-rate rentals — would have attracted the same amount of people under their original use, only wealthier.

And the proposed Fourth Avenue shelters are not the largest in Brooklyn, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services, who noted that Win operates two neighboring shelters that serve a combined 412 families elsewhere in the borough.

Kapoor goes on to claim via the petition that Fourth Avenue between Prospect Avenue and Ninth Street has become a dumping ground for the city’s social and environmental problems, and is already host to a Department of Sanitation garage and waste-transfer station, the Department of Transporta­tion’s noxious Hamilton Avenue asphalt plant, and the Gowanus Parole Center, making the addition of two massive shelters unbearable.

None of those facilities, however, are actually located on Fourth Avenue; both the sanitation garage and parole center are located on Second Avenue, while the asphalt plant and waste-transfer station are on Hamilton Avenue.

One thing omitted from the petition are concerns over the shelter’s effects on nearby property values, but Kapoor — a condo owner — admitted that issue remains a source of worry for her, and her neighbors, despite claims Bray made at the May 1st meeting that shelters do not affect the value of neighboring homes.

“Even though in the town hall they said historically there’s no data that shows property values aren’t effected by shelters, the fact is there’s very little date on this type of huge… we’re not talking about one shelter, we’re talking about two huge shelters near our properties,” Kapoor said. “Theres no doubt this will have a negative impact on the property value.”

Kapoor is a women’s rights activist and founder of Sayfty, an advocacy group that promotes programs and initiatives that protect women against domestic violence and rape. She said she see’s no conflict in advocating against the shelters, despite its intended purpose of serving mostly women and children, claiming restrictions that prevent families from stay more than a year will prevent them from making meaningful connections within the community, and from getting the services they need.

“I’m all for helping and empowering women, but I don’t see this as a way of empowering women and families,” she said. “The city hasn’t given us enough reason and information on how they’re helping them out.”

The petition’s claim that shelter residents get the boot after one year is not true, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services, who said that all homeless New Yorkers have the right to shelter for as long as they need it.

The city will host a public contract hearing on June 27, where the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services will share a final draft version of the city’s agreement with the developer before it’s signed.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 12:13 pm, May 29, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Jack from Brooklyn says:
Who would have thunk the ultra liberals in PS are just another bunch of NIMBY’s. Hypocrites.
May 27, 8:45 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
And keep in mind the man at the helm of this idiocy wants to be president!
May 27, 9:35 am
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
First I our local government encourages higher end luxury condos that are subsidized through our taxes dollars and displaces low income people. Then the same government wants to pay these contractors to build homeless shelters with our tax dollars for the very same people that were displaced. It's no wonder other cities and states could survive quite well without income taxes, tolls, parking meters and predatory ticketing to its citizens.
May 27, 11:28 am
Lisa from Gowanus says:
I think this article is quite unfair to the Gowanus residents who are protesting the city's plans. As is clear on the petition, the issue is not the presence of shelters for homeless women and children, it's the concentration of them in a neighborhood already hosting many burdensome city facilities. That some of these facilities are on 2nd avenue instead of 4th does not invalidate this argument. It's the same neighborhood. That there may be bigger shelters elsewhere in the city also does not invalidate the argument. The photos on the petition make clear just how large these planned shelters will be. We are also disturbed at the city's failure to engage the community before formalizing these plans as well as the city's cynical ploy to depict all legitimate concerns about these shelters as selfish and uninformed.
May 27, 12:33 pm
Homeless Family says:
We’re protesting against Park Slope! We don’t want to be there either! No Park Slope! No Park Slope!
May 27, 12:44 pm
Svetlana Porcelana from Petrograd says:
The homeless and the illegals live better than the tax-paying working class, only in Amerikka!
May 27, 1:15 pm
Maxine from Gowanus says:
The petition does not say that only 4th Ave between Propect and 9th is bearing responsibility for social and environmental problems, but that the neighborhood of Gowanus conjoining 4th Ave is. All of the facilities mentioned are in Gowanus. 4th Ave is the boundary line separating Park Slope from Gowanus. One side of the street is technically Park Slope, and the other is Gowanus.
May 27, 3:06 pm
Maxine from Gowanus says:
DHS did not say at the May 1st meeting at John Jay that residents of these shelters would "get the boot" after one year of residency. They said that they expect residents to reside in these shelters on average about one year. DHS promises there will be extensive services to help residents find more permanent homes. Either way, the net result is a constant turnover of residents who live in these shelters for only about one year.
May 27, 3:11 pm
Maxine from Gowanus says:
The petition is not advocating only for Shruti Kapoor's building, but for the entire neighborhood and city. One element of this story not mentioned in this article is the fact that the city is paying "market rate" for these brand new units originally designed for the luxury market. This is gross fiscal negligence that will negatively impact all New York taxpayers.
May 27, 3:25 pm
Gowanus neighbor from Gowanus says:
The trust and honesty gap that Brad Lander, WIN and DHS have created by refusing to answer basic questions is shocking and depressing. It began at the John Jay meeting, when the only specific answer Christine Quinn (WIN CEO) gave (about the number of security staff) was directly contradicted by the flyers that DHS distributed at that very same meeting. Perhaps this massive Lander-led bailout to two of the sleaziest developers in Brooklyn (Adam America and Slate) will turn into a wonderful project. But if that is so, why are Lander et al hatching this plan in a secretive back room and refusing to engage the neighborhood with honesty? This neighborhood, among the most diverse in Brooklyn, has been calling for deeply affordable, permanent housing for years. This is not that.
May 27, 3:35 pm
Maxine from Gowanus says:
The comment about density in this article is also a distortion. The petition refers to density of homeless shelter units, not population density. And these buildings were not originally planned for only "wealthy" residents. They were planned for a mix of market rate and affordable housing units.
May 27, 3:44 pm
Jack from BK says:
Let’s not put more homeless shelters here. It’s not fair. Please, put them in the low income areas they belong in. It’s the governments fault there are homeless in the first place, not the people who reside along 4th ave.
May 27, 4:02 pm
Mom of 2 from Sunset Park says:
We need to provide permanent housing for homeless families, but everything about this project smells of a crooked taxpayer-funded gift for a couple of evil developers. Brad Lander asked us to support up-zoning 4th Avenue with the promise that it would mean buildings with mixes of affordable and market rate apartments so that we could build on our already vibrant and diverse neighborhood and open up permanent opportunities for families. But Brad broke his promise when the rich developers asked him for a multi-million dollar gift. Instead of permanent affordable housing, we are get this. And now Brad is using the same false promises to pushi the Gowanus re-zoning--replacing single family homes owned by the same families for generations with 30 story buildings--as the next gift to developers. With a track record like this, the only votes he will get for Comptroller will be from his BFFs: Adam America and Slate Property Group.
May 27, 4:22 pm
Liberal Phonies from Park Slope says:
My fellow liberal progressives you are a disgrace to our cause. We deplore Trump for wanting to build a wall, rejection of refugees from the Middle East and cuts to social and economic aid to the poor. The city has a homeless problem and it is astonishing buildings as large as these 2 will be filled immediately. Anyone who rejects the people and families in need to occupy these buildings is just like Trump.
May 27, 4:28 pm
Beverly from Flatbush says:
It’s understandable - the homeless are littered with bed bugs! Eww!
May 27, 6:13 pm
Wilbur D. Horse from Bananadale says:
Christine Quinn brought her holier-than-thou, hand-wringing, social worker minstrel show to St George, Staten Island, where she promptly called us racists. The guilt trip didn’t work, because within 1000 feet of Quinn’s proposed SI gold mine, on Central Ave, there are already TWO homeless shelters run by Project Hospitality, AND one Section 8 hotel, the Richmond Hotel, where heroin dealers shoot each other in broad daylight. Look it up if you don’t believe me. So don’t give me this NIMBY crap; we do our part—and more, but enough is enough. We don’t want poverty pimpin Quinn to add to our misery. But who cares what the locals want; it has already been approved. I moved out months ago. DeBlasio wants to destroy neighborhoods, while playing the saint in Las Vegas. Quinn makes millions while hundreds of addicts walk the streets of St George. We will never forget you, deBlasio.
May 27, 8:57 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
This conversion of buildings, which were intended to be luxury condos/rentals into two shelters smacks of corruption. The developers are receiving a tax funded bailout under the guise of asisting homeless families, a nobal cause indeed. However, what about just using one building for a shelter? The fact both are being converted shows this government action to be a pay-to-play between developers and politicians. Follow the money, and you will find the real reason this is occurring.
May 28, 8:40 am
RM from Brooklyn says:
Interesting because the local listserve is filled with volunteers ready to support and welcome these families.. I guess that’s not interesting news?
May 28, 8:59 am
C. Park from Prospect Hgts/border Park Slope says:
Park Slope residents are the in danger of displaying their true colors. These liberals lie and distort the true facts once it doesn't fit their twisted value system. The over burden of social service programs in the area is slightly inaccurate. It's just amazing.
May 28, 9:08 am
Transplant from Ohio says:
Boy, I thought all you native NYer's were supposed to be tough. What a bunch of whiny snowflakes. You'd get a beat down if you whined like that in Ohio.
May 28, 10:02 am
Otis from Park Slope says:
I am disappointed by my fellow residents of Park Slope for not practicing what we preach. We need to be thankful that most of us have good jobs and can afford to have a high lifestyle. In the past, we have placed signs welcoming Syrian refugees, openly protested against Trump,support every progressive cause, voted for DeBlasio and Lander, are in favor of open borders but when it comes to our own, American citizens, who are not as fortunate as us, suddenly this community is afraid of 400 homeless people? Let's start practicing what we preach and openly welcoming these homeless to our community.
May 28, 10:31 am
anonymous says:
So, a combined 700 beds are ok in this area (between the 2 sets of shelters)? Why isn't Staten Island made to bear some responsibility for the nearly 2k homeless that reside there? This part of Brooklyn has become a dumping ground for prisons, shelters, clinics, and transitional housing. Let's build a few shelters in boro park or bay ridge. I hear there's land in East New York too. What about Hudson Yards? Let's share the burden equally not disproportionally. How about mandating a specific number fo equally sized shelters in every community board -- or did that ruffle too many commenters feathers? lol
May 28, 10:32 am
concerned from Greenwood says:
Yeah, where's the shelter in Hudson Yards? Don't hear about one there. Do we? I agree with anonymous above. Also, as a Park Sloper that lives on a block with a shelter currently in place, I can honestly say I disapprove of those buildings being used to house the homeless because they are TOO LARGE. I don't approve of those buildings being so big, shelters or not. The shelter on my block is significantly smaller and easier to manage. Both thoughts can coexist because I want public housing built for the poor, not this band-aid on a gaping wound. This DEFINITELY stinks of some weird agreement between developers (Adam America and Slate) getting a bailout at the expense of taxpayers
May 28, 12:19 pm
Lizbette from slope says:
Do you think the poor want to be poor? Do the homeless want to be homeless? These shelters need to be in locations that welcome them. These families have it tough enough without being spit on when they walk out their front door. I guarantee you there is not a poor person alive who would want to live among rich people. Poor people do not like being displayed as lesser people and judged on what possessions they have or what they look like. Putting a homeless shelter in a rich neighborhood is just setting the tenants up to fail. It is cruel and inhumane. Do you think that the tenants will allow themselves to be laughed at, spit on, etc. no they will fight back and then the law gets involved and it creates all kinds of problems. A shelter in this neighborhood...come on man.
May 28, 1:29 pm
Guy From Coney Island from Coney Island says:
You guys voted for the mayor, stop bs petition. Just enjoy his doings.
May 28, 1:29 pm
TOM from Sunset Park says:
How many affordable apartments were demolished to make room for these new constructions. Two dozen by my remembrance and nothing was said.
May 28, 1:54 pm
Vin from Fort Greene says:
LOL white liberals.
May 28, 3:07 pm
Niv from Fort Greene says:
LOL white conservatives.
May 28, 3:24 pm
Xerxos from Gowanus says:
To all the self-righteous, pontificating, pseudo-left "liberals" who accuse those who oppose these shelters of not caring about the homeless: understand that the petition is not an argument against housing the homeless. It is an argument against concentrating homeless shelters in one location, and doing it in a cost-ineffective manner to boot, while bailing out a project that had many delays and DOB violations, and a developer with a history of corrupt deals (Rivington House) with DeBlasio. It's the people who don't live near these shelters who are the real NIMBYs because they don't want homeless shelters to be concentrated in a few locations so they won't be everywhere in the city.
May 28, 4:25 pm
Frank from Prospect heights says:
Yea, why aren’t they sheltered in Hudson Yards — oh that’s right— they are so rich and politically powerful that NIMBY isn’t an issue and Quinn and DeBlasio wouldn’t dare rock the boat because they would loose. Once again the elected officials pit the middle class against the poor. Bravo.
May 28, 5:02 pm
Xerxos from Gowanus says:
Correction to my previous post: The last sentence should have read: It's the people who don't live near these shelters who are the real NIMBYs because they want homeless shelters to be concentrated in a few locations so they won't be everywhere in the city. **Thanks to Frank for understanding the point I was making in spite of the typo.
May 28, 5:15 pm
Sarah from Gowanus says:
Bravo, Frank. You said it. It's the elite pitting the middle class against the poor. And it's working!! Anyone who objects to a concentration of homeless shelters in one area is branded a hypocrite. Anyone who complains when the city rearranges the whole area without consulting the local residents is a neo-nazi. If we don't take everything the city wants lying down, we must have voted for Trump. Wake up people! You're getting screwed too!
May 28, 7:53 pm
Barbara Moran from Bath Beach says:
I lived in Brooklyn for over 20 yrs... I've seen most of the neighborhoods go down hill. It seems Brooklyn is GOD forsaken. You take wonderful area's & destroy them. It's not safe to walk down the street. You can try to upgrade an area all you want... it's not going to work. It's the surrounding neighborhoods. You don't value the productive middle class. Why ? I now live in CA in a secure setting. I still love Brooklyn & can just cry when I think about what's happening. I'm all for feeding & protecting the unfortunate.. So put them in your neighborhood. Just heartbroken !
May 28, 9:29 pm
Bethany says:
That building will be filled with bed bugs if they put homeless in it. They will spread everywhere!
May 29, 7:30 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
Another Bill de Blasio and his Mini-Me Brad Lander bailout of sleazy real estate developers.
May 29, 8:52 am
Rebecca from Park Slope says:
Just wanted to mention (as a Park Slope resident) that her views do not represent all. Someone posted about that petition on the local parenting listserv and received a couple of comments to say, This is a necessary thing and we shouldn't opposed it, and/or I'm looking forward to seeing if there are volunteer opportunities. Park Slope is not a monolith and not all Park Slope residents are classist pigs. Moreover, the city failed to do much community consutation ahead of the announcement, which never helps (especially since that neighborhood is on the border of Park Slope and Gowanus and some people directly affected are not privileged).
May 29, 8:57 am
Ty from North Brooklyn says:
Park Slope, Gowanus, Hudson Yards, AND Staten Island all should house the homeless. No one who has been quoted or commented has proposed a specific actionable thing that would result in 253 units of housing dedicated to the homeless elsewhere or in this neighborhood. Without real numbers and cost comparisons their claim of “inefficiency” and wastefulness is also spurious. Would the petitioners support the City putting homeless families into 253 brownstones scattered throughout Park Slope if it meant that this building were rented to upwardly mobile renters and not the homeless? After the success of this shelter on Fourth Ave I hope that the City announces larger ones in Staten Island and in Hudson Yards as everyone in this comments thread openly pines for. Will people in Fourth Avenue Condos support this shelter then?
May 29, 9:06 am
Rufus from Gowanus says:
The petition actually states (if you bother to read it) that its authors (there were many) support a homeless shelter on 4th Ave as long as it is a reasonable size. The petition does not object to homeless shelters per se, but to concentrating 253 homeless units for 500-1000 residents on two adjacent blocks. Spread it out more. Let's have homeless shelters in the posher corners of Park Slope, not *only* in the least affluent, least developed corner. Let's have homeless shelters in all parts of all neighborhoods. Of course, that's why Park Slope Parents want the shelters on 4th Ave. They don't want them up in the brownstone areas where they live. And by the way, the property taxes on those brownstones are worth in excess of 3 million dollars while they often pay less than $4,000 in annual property taxes. It's easy to support housing the homeless in luxury apartments when it's on someone else's block and on someone else's dime. Talk about hypocrites.
May 29, 11:44 am
2nd Gen Park Slope Native from Park Slope says:
The only places in park slope and Gowanus that new shelters can be placed are in new developments and the only new developments happening are in the formerly industrial areas of 4th ave and Gowanus. Logistics and just the reality of where these types of facilities can go have forced them to cluster. The complaint about the potential property value hit on 4th Ave is very assinine. 4th ave will never be 7th ave in property value and the current value it has is artificially inflated anyway. Those homeless that will be placed in these shelters are more native to the city than the people complaining about them, let them stay.
May 29, 8:54 pm
Deb from Sunset Park says:
No protesting the inordinate amount of high rise over priced condos in a condensed area, with zero added civic facilities of any kind. I’d love to protest all the folks moving into those. But life doesnt work like that, you can only protest against the marginalized apparently. I’d rather live next to a building of homeless women and children that a bunch of entitled, self righteous folks who think they are untouchable from any kind of disaster or loss. So gross. Stop criminalizing homelessness. Shove your petition up your entitled you know what.
May 30, 12:15 am
danica from South Slope says:
Anyone who thinks people in South Slope and Gowanus are rich "elitists" hasn't spent much time on 4th Avenue, which is a very diverse area of different people & cultures on the spectrum. That stretch of 4th Avenue is very dirty, with nothing but a head shop, a car service, and a restaurant storefront (that's been closed for over a year, and is still for rent.) With all the bravado the city has made about rehabbing 4th Avenue in the last few years, converting these two massive buildings into shelters isn't going to accomplish that. (And to the person from Sunset Park that said they're rather live next to homeless people, there are a number of apartments for rent or buy in the area. A great way to walk the walk, rather than just talking about it.) No one in the neighborhood objected to a portion of these buildings containing affordable housing but these are massive structures and there are no services in the neighborhood to support the residents. There are no grocery stores...where will residents buy food? Will PS 124 be able to absorb children from 250+ units? I haven't heard any neighbors of my complain about housing homeless but almost all are concerned about how the developer was able to rent out ALL the market-rate units to the city with no input from the community or anyone else - That was quite a windfall!
May 30, 3:28 pm
Rufus from Gowanus says:
@Deb: It's not true that the people protesting the city's plan hate the homeless. They are just opposed to this plan. However, your hatred of anyone who is better off than you are is unmistakable. ******@2nd Gen Park Slope native: I and my family have been here much longer than you but I don't use it as an excuse to hurl hatred at anyone who has been here for less time. You also are filled with hate.
May 30, 4:52 pm
Rufus from Gowanus says:
Hatred in discussions like this is an attack not just on those you are speaking with but on democracy itself. Democracy depends on cool headed, respectful, rational discussion. Hurling hatred at your interlocutors merely ramps up the emotional temperature. Instead of discussing the issues people end up merely venting their emotions and revealing their psychological wounds. And it silences people. I guess that's the intended effect. But it's profoundly anti-democratic and anti-social. No one who pursues such strategies is entitled to describe themselves as "liberal" or "progressive." They more closely resemble fascists and nazis, who also relied on hatred and scapegoating to shut down discussion.
May 30, 5:18 pm
bill from Gowanus/South Slope says:
Since the city is feeling flush with funds, maybe in addition to renting all the apartments from the developers at market rate, they'll find some funds to have retail spaces on the ground floor, something sorely missed on 4th Avenue, and would benefit our new neighbors as well as residents. Here are some ideas: Low-cost grocery stores, fitness studios, and some restaurants with moderately priced (and healthy food). Since it's unlikely any retail will be added to the neighborhood (the restaurant and butcher shop that closed, that was right cross that street on 4th Avenue, has a $1900 notice on the door from the gas company) it would be really terrific if the city could find a way to find tenants, and support them as well, so both the new residents and current ones, can benefit from the largess.
May 31, 1:39 pm
max from South Slope says:
According to a recent article by the New York Times, the writer of the article stated: "...when it became clear that they would not be filled, the city decided to rent them for shelter space from the developer." The buildings aren't even half-finished, yet "it became clear" they would not be filled. How did that become clear? What indication did they have they wouldn't be? (Especially when another brand-new building across the street was filled immediately.) So the city jumped in and rented every single apartment at market rates. Is it just me, or does something not seem right about that?
June 3, 4:12 am
Brad Lander paying $263 million to these developers from Gowanus says:
The numbers are in: these two shelters will cost $263 million for 9 years. That is approx. $115,000 per apartment per year or $9,700 per month. That isn't market rate. It's 3-4x market rate. The fact that Brad Lander can claim this incredible bailout to two of the worst developers in the city is market rate with a straight face either means he has been a politician for too long or something worse.
June 5, 12:11 am

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