The site of a proposed men’s homeless shelter in Brighton Beach is now slated to become a United States Postal Service facility after years of community outcry against the shelter.
The city’s Department of Homeless Services originally announced plans to open a new a 170-bed men’s shelter in an empty building at 100 Neptune Ave. in 2020. Residents quickly shared their concerns over the location of the shelter, claiming it was too close to Bay Academy and PS 771 and residential neighborhoods. In a series of contentious community meetings, locals claimed the men being housed in the shelter would present a danger to the community.
In June 2021, the department said the site was no longer being considered for the shelter, telling Brooklyn Paper at the time that it was scouting out alternative locations in the district. But Council Member Inna Vernikov of District 48, who has publicly resisted the potential mens home, said locals were still skeptical, worried DHS would change its mind.
According to Vernikov, the announcement that this building will be a postal facility will alleviate any remaining concerns.
“Now that we know there’s going to be a postal facility, I think that calms everyone and reassures them that it’s not going to be a homeless shelter in that specific location,” she told Brooklyn Paper.
The council woman has spoken out against the potential shelter since she began campaigning over two years ago. She said during the past couple of years, many Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay natives were worried that the shelter could bring drugs and crime to the area.
“This was a very big thing. There was a big community outcry about this specific location. I could say with certainty that nobody wanted that shelter. It was not a partisan issue at all,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who represents the southern Brooklyn district the shelter was proposed for in Congress, has also stood against the men’s facility, and instead pushed to have more “efficient postal service” in the borough.
“I’m pleased to see the city officially scrap its plans to place a men’s homeless shelter in southern Brooklyn, just blocks away from several schools and residential homes,” Malliotakis said in a statement. “A postal facility will be a welcome addition to this neighborhood and will improve service after the Sheepshead Bay Post Office was closed due to fire damage.”
DHS did not return request for comment.
According to the Coalition for the Homeless, an organization working directly with unhoused New Yorkers, homelessness rates have risen in recent years. Data compiled by the Coalition show a total of 68,884 people slept in a DHS or HPD shelter in December 2022.
It is difficult for officials to get an accurate count of the city’s homeless population — but according to a DHS daily count, more than 71,000 people — including almost 17,000 single men — slept in a shelter on the night of March 8. According to city data, 456 people staying in city shelters in 2020 had last lived within District 18. As of 2019, shelters in the district housed just over 1,000 people.
“I am not against homeless shelters. We should definitely have a safe place to house the homeless community and we should provide them with support but it should also not harm our children [and] senior citizens,” Vernikov said. “Their safety should not be place at risk in order to accommodate the homeless population.”