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Easy Access to Heroin On Manhattan Ave. Tempts Shelter Residents: Director

By Gwynne Hogan | October 30, 2016 11:55am | Updated on October 31, 2016 8:48am
 Four people have had bad reactions to heroin they bought outside of God Bless Deli this month, the shelter's manager said.
Four people have had bad reactions to heroin they bought outside of God Bless Deli this month, the shelter's manager said.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

GREENPOINT — Four shelter residents had bad reactions to heroin they bought in front of God Bless Deli on Manhattan Avenue in October, and easy access to the drug on the block is tempting some who managed to kick the habit, said the shelter's manager.

"People that have been clean for years and people who never used before are now using," Derrick Watson, a program director at the 200-bed Bowery Residents Committee Shelter, said at a recent public meeting to discuss issues at local shelters with the community. "The access of it on Manhattan Avenue is affecting clients that may have never used before."

"They start using when they come to the store to get a cup of coffee," he said, adding that residents he'd interviewed said they'd bought the heroin that had made them sick in front of deli on the southwest corner of Manhattan Street and Clay Street, which is near his shelter at 400 McGuinness Blvd.

A manager at God Bless Deli couldn't be reached immediately for comment. The BRC shelter is located two blocks from Home Life Services that's generated more community concerns since it opened two years ago. Home Life Services couldn't be reached immediately for comment.

Ongoing issues like noise, loitering and drug use at the intersection of Clay Street and Manhattan Avenue lead local City Councilman Steve Levin to allocate funds in this year's budget for the 94th Precinct to install an NYPD camera on the corner, which went up in early September, Levin's Chief of Staff Jonathan Boucher said.

But a resident of the block said in the two months since the cameras have gone up not much has changed.

"Some of the people, I'll call it doing business on the corner, aren't fazed by cameras," said Laura Hoffmann, 59, a lifelong Greenpoint resident who lives on the block, who said witnessing drug deals is just part of living on the block at this point.

"It's looking very much like Greenpoint in the early 1990’s. I no longer feel safe on my corner at night," she said. "What I think they really need is a lot of foot patrol."

Captain Peter Rose, head of the 94th Precinct, said they hadn't been contacted by the BRC Shelter about the bad heroin.

“There always have been rumors that there's been drug sales there. We haven’t made any drug arrests there," Rose said. "If they’re getting information about drug sales, I'd love to have that information. That would be useful to the narcotics division."