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Deal 'Close' to Ending Lawsuit Over Controversial Brooklyn Homeless Shelter

 This building on Bergen Street between New York and Brooklyn avenues in Crown Heights is slated to become a home for 104 formerly homeless men.
This building on Bergen Street between New York and Brooklyn avenues in Crown Heights is slated to become a home for 104 formerly homeless men.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Attorneys for residents suing the city over the planned opening of a controversial Crown Heights homeless shelter say they’re close to an agreement that would allow the shelter to open while ordering the city to abide by certain terms at the site.

Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Katherine Levine told the city and the residents’ legal teams they have until Wednesday to hammer out the details of a proposed legal order for 1173 Bergen St., a new 104-bed men’s shelter that has been blocked from opening for nearly two months.

In the order, locals are looking to hold the city accountable at the Bergen Street site, particularly regarding security, they said outside a court hearing Monday.

The order may include specifics on how often the shelter is patrolled, how many security staff will be on-site and what the shelter operator, CORE Services, will do about loitering — but attorneys could not comment on the exact details while the deal is being worked out, they said.

“We are close,” said Phillip Solomon, an attorney working on behalf of residents.

In court, Levine said both sides have done a “yeoman’s job” trying to reach an agreement, but stressed she’ll make a decision about the shelter Wednesday whether or not an order comes together.

On Monday, DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn said the agency is "confident the court will recognize our vital need for these high-quality beds, as they have for decades in these kinds of cases."

"We also remain committed to continuing to work with the community, as we have throughout this process, to ensure Bergen House is integrated into the neighborhood and our clients are welcomed as neighbors," he said in a statement.

Two Crown Heights block associations and dozens of individual residents filed the lawsuit against the city in March, a day before the planned opening for 1173 Bergen St., seeking to keep it off their street.

A temporary restraining order has been in place at the site since March 24 and no clients have moved in. The location is among the first in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to create 90 new homeless shelters citywide as part of a revamping of the Department of Homeless Services. The plan aims to reduce the shelter population by 2,500 in five years and end the use of cluster and hotel shelters in the city.

Backlash to the Bergen Street shelter was intense after the plan was first announced, with locals demanding the city shut the shelter down and leading a march against the plan.

A second shelter in the neighborhood, at 267 Rogers Ave., has also been met with resistance from residents. One block association near that proposed facility for 132 families is also planning to sue the city, but has not yet filed paperwork for a lawsuit, they said Monday.