Cailley LaPara

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The community group Bushwick Neighbors United (BNU) issued a press release last week to bring attention to the price of a proposed homeless shelter, set to open this month at 97 Wyckoff Ave. In the press release, the group calls on New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer “to immediately review the $33 million price tag the city is paying… to operate an 80 bed men’s shelter” over five years.

According to the DHS, the proposed shelter will be a transitional living facility for 80 single adult men experiencing homelessness. The average stay per tenant is approximately one year and priority will be offered to people originally from Brooklyn, giving them the opportunity to reintegrate into their families and support networks.

The press release followed a report issued by Comptroller Stringer on May 22, which announced that the Department of Buildings (DOB) was placed on the Comptroller’s Agency Watch List for the first time, along with Homeless services provider agencies like the Department of Homeless Services (DOH), which are on the list for the second consecutive year. Both the DOB and DOH are affiliated with the Wyckoff Avenue shelter.

“Despite extraordinary increases in spending for homelessness prevention and permanent housing, the homeless population in shelters has remained stubbornly high, resulting in rising costs,” read the Comptroller’s report. BNU feels that this increased spending results in mismanaged taxpayer money, and requests greater transparency from those operating the shelter.

“We need transparency into where this money is going – is it going to enrich the landlord, Acuity Capital Partners, or to executives of the non-profit Core Services?” reads the press release. “If it’s truly intended to help the homeless, which we all agree need it, we need to know how it will help end the cycle of homelessness for these men.”

This is BNU’s second press release since March, when the group was formed in opposition to the proposed shelter. Community members have spoken out against the shelter for various reasons, including the shelter’s proximity to two public schools, the neighborhood’s limited capacity for more shelters, and lack of communication and transparency from politicians.

New York City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, who represents District 34, where the shelter is located, has remained in support of opening the shelter. Assemblywoman Maritza Davila has met with community members to try to address their concerns.

Cover photo courtesy of author, 97 Wyckoff Ave.

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