City Council Files Legal Memo Against Chelsea Homeless Shelter

By Mathew Katz on August 18, 2011 10:52am 

The City Council says this shelter on West 25th Street violates city law.
The City Council says this shelter on West 25th Street violates city law.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

MANHATTAN — Details have emerged in the City Council's case against a 328-bed homeless shelter and rehabilitation center.

The shelter, which opened in July, is operated by the Bowery Residents' Committee. Earlier this month, the Council intervened on the side of a coalition of business and property owners in their suit against the facility.

The case's plaintiff, the Chelsea Flatiron Coalition, is seeking an injunction against the BRC shelter, saying it violates a city law limiting the size of shelters. In a memo issued to New York Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden dated Aug. 12, the Council agreed.

The law, passed in 1998, imposes a 200-bed cap on shelters to stop overcrowding. The city has argued that the shelter does not violate the law.

"History has shown that super-sized shelters such as the one that BRC has proposed to operate at 127 W. 25 St. do a disservice to both the homeless and the community at large," Council Speaker Christine Quinn wrote in a letter to her Chelsea constituents.

The Council's legal memo argues that BRC's operation of the shelter "reflects either ignorance or arrogance that cannot be excused by its financial interest in operating an oversized shelter."

Quinn has said that she's not opposed to having a shelter in Chelsea, but has long argued that BRC facility's size exceeds the legal limit.

Judge Madden has previously denied an injunction against the shelter, ruling that the city's limit on the size of shelters wasn't consistent with state law.

Muzzy Rosenblatt, executive director of BRC, was not immediately available for comment.

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