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Men's Shelter Coming to Dekalb Avenue in Bushwick, City Says

By Gwynne Hogan | May 17, 2016 2:36pm
 The shelter at 1154 Dekalb Ave. is slated to open up in June, according to the Department of Homeless Services. 
The shelter at 1154 Dekalb Ave. is slated to open up in June, according to the Department of Homeless Services. 
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

BUSHWICK — A 100-bed shelter for homeless men with roots in the area will open on Dekalb Avenue this June — a plan that's been met with mostly open arms by residents along the block.

Men will be able to stay at the new shelter at 1154 Dekalb Ave. for an average of nine months, and at the behest of the community, will have to show that their last address was in Bedford-Stuyvesant or Bushwick in order to live there, according to the city.

The building, owned by the organization Damon House that used it as drug treatment facility until January when it was vacated, is currently being renovated.

"That's pretty cool, I think it's definitely pretty cool," said Fernando Quilez, 43, who's lived on the block for the past five years. "Any time you can help out."

Josefina Ogando runs Sunny Rainbow Group Family Day Care a few doors down from the former drug treatment facility and future shelter and said in Spanish that she "never had any problems," with Damon House, adding that a shelter for locals would be a good thing.

Deed restrictions on the building require that it be used for homeless New Yorkers, according to DHS spokeswoman Lauren Gray, and no sex offenders will live at the facility.

"We are committed to developing new solutions to rehousing homeless New Yorkers,‎" said NYC Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks, who also oversees homeless services.

After two years, the building will transition into a permanent supportive housing facility, he said.

The Neighborhood Association for Inter-Cultural Affairs, an organization that runs shelters in the Bronx, will run the new shelter, according to Damon House Board Member, Pete Leon, 53, who also lives next door to the building.

"We have a very critical homeless situation," Leon said. "[They'll] take homeless folks in Bushwick, give them a chance...they'll have a place to stay."

DHS planned on meeting with the EBC High School for Public Service this week, which is located across the street from the site of the future shelter.

The school's principal Shawn Brown deferred to the Department of Education press office, which didn't return a request for comment.

While several neighbors expressed support for the new shelter, one homeowner admitted he wasn't happy about the news.

"We're in front of a school, we're in front of a library, we have to be careful who we let into this neighborhood," said Angel Martinez, 60, adding that he is worried too about the value of his home, though he never had any troubles with the former drug treatment facility.

"This is an upcoming neighborhood, to come up so far, to be dropped down," he said. "It's a black eye all over again."