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Residents Go to Court to Stop Opening of Crown Heights Shelter

 This building on Bergen Street between New York and Brooklyn avenues in Crown Heights will become a shelter for 106 homeless men next month, the city said.
This building on Bergen Street between New York and Brooklyn avenues in Crown Heights will become a shelter for 106 homeless men next month, the city said.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — A day before its opening, neighbors of a controversial new shelter in Crown Heights have filed a petition to stop the project.

Two block associations near the 106-bed shelter slated to open at 1173 Bergen St. said they filed legal documents in Brooklyn Supreme Court late Tuesday they hope will prevent the facility opening Wednesday.

The injunction petition — filed by attorney Jacqueline McMickens on behalf of the Bergen Street Block Association, Dean Street Block Association and at least 30 individual residents — argues the shelter should not open until an environmental review is complete, the site goes through the months-long Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, and analysis has been conducted of whether “Fair Share” rules in the City Charter have been followed, among other demands.

The Bergen Street facility was originally slated to open on March 22. It’s unclear whether or not the petition will affect that plan.

Inquiries to the mayor’s office, Department of Homeless Services and the site’s operator, CORE Services, were not immediately returned Tuesday.

The Bergen Street facility has faced fierce opposition from its neighbors in recent weeks, both at a series of public meetings where residents called on city officials to “shut it down” and in an online petition with hundreds of signatories who asked the mayor to scrap the plan for the 106-bed shelter.

Fior Ortiz, president of the Bergen Street Block Association, said the group and the community “are united in opposition.”

“Under dark of night, the city works with for-profit shelter developers to prey on our neighborhood. They think we are a dumping ground and the community will not stand for it,” she said.

The shelter at 1173 Bergen St. is one of 90 new homeless shelter slated to open under a plan by Mayor de Blasio to overhaul the Department of Homeless Services facilities citywide.

Originally, the shelter was slated to house men 50 years old and older, according to its operator, CORE Services. But following the outcry from locals about the facility, CORE changed the age minimum for men at the shelter to 62 years.

Under the DHS overhaul, all “cluster” and hotel sites previously used to house homeless residents and families would be phased out, the mayor said in a Feb. 28 announcement, to be replaced by the 90 new shelters. In total, the city hopes the new plan would reduce the homeless population — currently at a record high of 60,000 people — by 2,500 in the next five years.

So far, the city has announced the locations of only five of the 90 shelters to be created. Three of the first five are located in the Crown Heights area; the other two are located in the Belmont section of the Bronx.

McMickens said she will argue the case at a hearing in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday.