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Homeless Shelter For 65 Families To Open in Kensington Next Month

By Nikhita Venugopal | November 27, 2015 3:42pm | Updated on November 29, 2015 7:38pm

KENSINGTON — A former college dormitory will re-open as a homeless shelter for 65 families next month, officials said this week. 

The new shelter, located at 385 McDonald Ave. near Albemarle Road in Kensington, will open the week of Dec. 7 near P.S. 230, a pre-K to fifth grade school.

Councilman Brad Lander, whose district includes the neighborhood, said he had “recently become aware” of the Department of Homeless Services' plan to open the shelter, which will be operated by CAMBA.

"Of course there is a lot of anxiety in the community. Almost no one wants a new shelter located next door, especially when it is done on such short notice, and with no real community voice," Lander posted on his website Wednesday.

Lander will host a community meeting Dec. 10 at P.S. 230, located at 1 Albemarle Rd. at 6:30 p.m. regarding the new shelter. RSVP here.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had repeatedly denied the city had a homeless problem despite complaints and news coverage, including a report from DNAinfo which found a roughly 60 percent increase in 311 calls about homeless issues since the mayor took office. Earlier this week, the mayor acknowledged he was slow to recognize the problem was growing.

This month, de Blasio announced a $2.6 billion plan to build 15,000 units of supportive housing to combat the growing homeless population.

The decision to open the Kensington shelters comes on the heels of a public feud with Governor Andrew Cuomo on tackling the city’s homeless problem.

“Increasing homelessness is an unfortunate product of today’s economic realities — rising income inequality, rents rising, and wages remaining flat,” a DHS spokeswoman said in a statement.

“We have to ensure we have the resources to shelter and provide services to homeless families in need, and that’s why we’re opening a site in the Kensington area of Brooklyn, the first to be located in Community Board 12,” she said.

Under the current policy, a notice of only seven days is required in emergency contracting provisions in the City Charter, according to Lander. Although allowed, it "does not make it a good policy," he said.

"I sincerely wish that the city provided more notice to communities about new shelters," he said. 

CAMBA, which also operates the women’s shelter at the Park Slope Armory, will offer several programs for families in the new Kensington shelter, including health and legal services, workforce development and counseling, officials said.

It also includes youth programs and educational services for children. Students will also be transported to their current schools in different neighborhoods, according to DHS.

DHS has outlined its security plan for the shelter, which includes surveillance cameras, guards, a metal detector and an X-Ray machine. The 66th Precinct will also be pushing to have more security put in place, Lander said.

According to a 2012 article from Crain’s, the dorm, which was known as University Place, housed students from schools like Adelphi University, Brooklyn College, New York University and the New School.

While Lander acknowledged residents' anger at being presented with a "done deal," he urged locals to "show compassion for homeless New Yorkers.”

"So, I’m asking you to try, this Thanksgiving week, to approach the situation with compassion, and begin the work of problem-solving to address any issues that arise," he said.