Gimme Shelter: NY’ers See Red Over Plans To House Homeless And Criminals In Their Neighborhoods

NY’ers See Red Over Plans To House Homeless And Criminals In Their Neighborhoods

By Jeff Vasishta August 25, 2016
Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post

Hands up—who wants a jail next to their home? What, no hands? Ok, then how about a homeless shelter? Yeah, not surprising. But, these are questions residents of gentrifying New York neighborhoods may be asked soon, if recent reports in DNA Info are to be believed. Sites in East New York, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx are being considered for new jails that could replace the infamous Rikers Island.

Related: Is The Tornado Of Gentrification About To Touch Down In East New York?

“The last thing they should bring to East New York is a jail,” Chris Banks, director of the advocacy group, East New York United Concerned Citizens Inc said. “We are over saturated with shelters. We are already dealing with dwindling resources.”

A jail would also fly in the face of the massive new development planned for East New York, green lit by the city in their controversial plan to rezone 190 blocks of industrial land for residential use. Don’t expect to see a jail highlighted as an amenity on glossy prospectus of new developments with rock climbing walls and yoga studios. Word of the potential jail sites has been met with similar opposition in the other locations.

“Somebody really smart decided we’re going to put people who are potentially violent criminals on an island away from society. No one wants a jail next to their house,” Councilman Joe Borelli, whose district includes Rossville, a potential Staten Island prison site, told DNA Info.

Related: Emergency Shelter Comes With A Built-in Cricket Farm

Bed-Stuy residents are also up in arms over a proposal from Breaking Ground, a homeless outreach organization, to locate a shelter at 1217 Bedford Ave., near Halsey Street. The plan, which will house up to 75 homeless adults near gleaming condos and vegan restaurants, was proposed by the city’s Department of Homeless Services. Residents are particularly upset because of the massive 50,000 square foot Bedford-Atlantic Men’s Shelter, already three blocks away.

“Why is the concentration in Bed-Stuy?” said Marc Faissal,44, author of a petition by locals opposing the shelter. “Why can’t others in the city have their fair share of shelters.” The problem is, that’s what everyone will say. But, he has a point. Brooklyn’s Community District 3—which is largely based in Bed-Suy and Bushwick—houses 13 shelters, according to the DHS.

The drop-in center planned for Bedford Avenue, differs from a conventional shelter in that it provides a temporary place for individuals to shower, eat a meal, see a doctor and rest, according the DHS. Case management and housing placement services are also provided.

Neighbors of the shelter state that they are not opposed to the concept, just the concentration of shelters in their neighborhood, which is now home to many high-end condo buildings and massive new developments.

“Everyone understands the needs, and part of our duty as citizens is to help people in need,” says Turner Stough. But you can’t do it in one small concentration.”

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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