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Controversial Local Shelter Relocates Mid-Winter and Faces Uncertain Future

By Meredith Hoffman | February 13, 2013 5:11pm

GREENPOINT — A hard-won local homeless shelter has left its host church just weeks after swinging open its doors, officials said.

The 10-bed respite for homeless Greenpoint men — which opened in November with city funding after four years of debates over where to place it — quietly moved from one church to another blocks away, Williamsburg Council Member Stephen Levin said Tuesday night.

The Greenpoint Reformed Church, which has drawn neighbors' ire for hosting the shelter in its basement, shuttered its respite and the nearby Church of Ascension has taken on the responsibility for the rest of winter, Levin said.

"It was one program too many," said Levin of the shelter at Greenpoint Reformed Church, which already offers a soup kitchen, food pantry and other social services. He did not attribute the shelter's closure to neighbors' complaints over "drunk" and "loud" homeless men on their block, although residents near the church have organized to fight the shelter.

Levin said he had not heard any complaints from neighbors of the Church of Ascension over the respite's new placement, but he noted that the congregation had only agreed to take on the responsibility for the rest of the winter.

"We have the funds," Levin said of money for a local shelter to accomodate Greenpoint's mainly Polish-speaking homeless men. Now, the task is to find a location for next year — a struggle that echoes the past four years of identifying a viable spot.