CROWN HEIGHTS — The city is facing a court hearing Friday to explain to a judge why it should be allowed to open a new shelter in Crown Heights despite strong opposition from residents taking legal action against the facility.
The case could be one of the first tests for a plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio to open 90 new shelters citywide in hopes of reducing New York's current record-high homeless population — about 60,000 people at last count — by 2,500 in five years.
The Bergen House, a 106-bed shelter for men over the age of 62, will be run by CORE Services at 1173 Bergen St.. It was scheduled to open Wednesday but the city is now aiming to open it sometime next week, a spokesman for the Department of Homeless Services said Thursday.
“The city and CORE are opening this facility as soon as possible to give senior men from Brooklyn the opportunity to be closer to the communities they called home in order to stabilize their lives,” said DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn. “We are ensuring the building is ready for occupancy and completing final reviews, and expect to open this facility next week.”
The news comes as two block associations neighboring the shelter and more than 30 residents have taken legal action to halt the shelter’s opening, filing an injunction petition in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Tuesday, their attorney told DNAinfo.
However, the city says the decision to delay the opening was made before the petition was filed and the court filing has not affected the shelter’s opening schedule.
The city’s Law Department is reviewing the petition, a spokesman said. A hearing on the matter will take place Friday morning in Brooklyn Supreme Court, a representative of the petitioners said.
The shelter at 1173 Bergen St. has faced fierce opposition from locals at a series of public meetings and in an online petition calling for its closure since the city announced its opening last month.
Of the 90 new homeless shelters slated to open under de Blasio's overhaul of DHS citywide, only one — a shelter serving LGBTQ young people that opened quietly in The Bronx the week before the mayor's announcement — has opened so far.
Under the DHS overhaul, all “cluster” and hotel sites previously used to house homeless residents and families would be phased out, to be replaced by the 90 new shelters. The city has announced the locations of only five of the 90 shelters; Three are located in the Crown Heights area and the other two are located in the Belmont section of The Bronx.