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Make Crown Heights Shelter Site Low-Income Housing, Locals Implore Mayor

By Rachel Holliday Smith | March 31, 2017 4:03pm | Updated on April 3, 2017 8:32am
 Dr. Yvonne Reid, center, a 45-year resident of Crown Heights, joined Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, left, outside a planned homeless shelter at 267 Rogers Ave. on Friday to denounce the city's plan to turn the building into transitional housing for 132 families.
Dr. Yvonne Reid, center, a 45-year resident of Crown Heights, joined Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, left, outside a planned homeless shelter at 267 Rogers Ave. on Friday to denounce the city's plan to turn the building into transitional housing for 132 families.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — Neighbors of a proposed homeless shelter on Rogers Avenue say they are dead set against transitional housing planned on the site and want it to be permanent low-income housing instead, they told the mayor Friday.

Homeowners from the Crown Street Block Association are furious with the city for planning to house 132 homeless families at 267 Rogers Ave., a large new residential building wrapping up construction between Carroll and Crown streets in Crown Heights.

On Friday, residents joined Councilmember Laurie Cumbo to demand Mayor Bill de Blasio make the Rogers Avenue building permanent housing. Currently, the shelter plan would make 80 percent of the building transitional housing with residents staying for between six months and a year, according to the city, while 20 percent of units would be set aside as affordable housing.

 The city plans to open a shelter facility for 132 families in this newly constructed building on Rogers Avenue and Carroll Street in Crown Heights, the Department of Homeless Services said.
The city plans to open a shelter facility for 132 families in this newly constructed building on Rogers Avenue and Carroll Street in Crown Heights, the Department of Homeless Services said.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

Dr. Yvonne Reid, a 45-year resident of Crown Street and a former principal of nearby elementary school P.S. 397, said she and her neighbors are “not against the homeless” but maintained the city should allow locals to give input on the future of the building.

“We should be able to suggest and decide what happens,” Reid said while standing in the rain outside the building at a press conference Friday morning. “We here on Crown Street are crying to the mayor, and appealing to the mayor, to make this permanent, low-income housing so that children are not shuffled day in and day out."

Department of Homeless Services spokesman Isaac McGinn said the city welcomes community input on the project but is moving forward with the opening of the “new, high-quality transitional housing facility for homeless families from the Crown Heights community.”

At a meeting with the block association Wednesday, a city official said the shelter would open in May.

Representatives from DHS and the shelter’s operator, Samaritan Village, will be on hand to answer questions about the facility at a town hall meeting scheduled next Thursday, April 6, according to Brooklyn Community Board 9. The meeting will take place at 6:00 p.m. at P.S. 161, located at 330 Crown St., the board’s chair said.

Meanwhile, the block association members are exploring their legal options for fighting the opening of the shelter, they said. If they go to court, it would be the second legal action against a planned Crown Heights homeless shelter.

Earlier this week, a Brooklyn judge blocked the opening of a men’s shelter at 1173 Bergen St. after neighbors of the facility sued to stop it.

The Bergen Street shelter, the Rogers Avenue location and a third shelter for women — now open in Prospect Heights — are among the first new shelters to open under de Blasio’s plan to create 90 new shelters citywide in an overhaul of DHS, his office announced last month.

At Friday’s press conference, Cumbo criticized the city for the “oversaturation” of homeless shelters in the neighborhood.

“Everyone is not pulling their weight of addressing the homeless crisis in New York City,” she said.

DHS says Community District 9, where the Rogers Avenue location is located, had a total of 19 shelter sites at the beginning of the year but will have a total of four by year’s end with the closure of 16 cluster and hotel sites and the opening of 267 Rogers Ave.