Greenpoint Says No to Another Homeless Shelter

04/08/2011 9:49 AM |


Greenpoint residents have rejected a proposal for a homeless men’s shelter on McGuiness Boulevard for the second time in less than a year. Last summer, HELP USA announced plans to turn a four-story structure on McGuinness Boulevard into a 200-bed shelter, but retreated by February, citing budget problems. Many in the neighborhood, though, took the backtrack as a victory for the vociferous popular and political opposition, which had plagued HELP those six months.

But news comes this week that another organization, the Bowery Residents’ Committee, has issued a new-but-the-same proposal to convert the building into a 200-bed homeless men’s shelter that once again has residents livid: 150 neighbors—significantly more than the 20 who recently opposed a proposed bazaar—showed up at a recent meeting to voice their concerns to Bowery’s executive director, the Brooklyn Paper reports.

Greenpoint residents have understandable concerns, including that they don’t want hundreds of shady-looking recovering drug addicts in a place near where their children are. Of course, that argument applies to anywhere, but try to accuse Greenpoint residents of NIMBYism and you’ll get two responses: one, that they aren’t opposed to a homeless shelter, but that they want one to service the significant population of local homeless—not those bussed in from Bellvue by a Manhattan-based organization; two, that the neighborhood already has a bum deal, from its wastewater treatment plant to its oozing, subterranean oil deposits.

Not every one buys these arguments. “I don’t think Greenpoint is as overloaded on social services as Crown Heights or especially East New York,” writes ‘Murry from Crown Heights’ on the Brooklyn Paper‘s website. “I don’t equate sewage treatment plants and bridge construction to social service programs.”

Another commenter accuses residents of playing up the neighborhood’s downsides in order to keep out new residents. Hmm, maybe. Greenpoint does seem to hate outsiders.

One Comment

  • While the “I don’t want homeless guys near my children” people were the loudest, I don’t think they represent all the people who actually oppose this shelter. I agree – that’s going to come up in any neighborhood out there. However, there were a lot more people saying things like the transportation availability at this location combined with the other known drug scoring spots right next to it made it a less than ideal location for an assessment center specified for a homeless population with addiction issues. It’s not just that Greenpoint residents don’t want it in their backyard. It’s that there are a lot of logistics issue with the site combined with the type of shelter (assessment vs. a longer-term facility) that raises concerns. I think if even one of those issues were addressed between the last rejection and this proposal, there may be less opposition. The fact that this exact proposal was rejected so recently and it came back with no changes to the actual proposal except the partner involved doesn’t exactly reassure residents that the community concerns ar heard/ considered. Also, while their are certainly neighborhoods who offer as many/ more public services to the city as Greenpoint, there are also many others that offer less, so it doesn’t necessarily negate the fair share argument. Out of curiosity, is there any neighborhood historically that has welcomed a homeless shelter with open arms? Can you point me to documentation of any neighborhood that was consulted before a new shelter was implemented that didn’t have any opposition? And if so, was that shelter as difficult to access by public transportation as this one? That might make me buy the assertion that we’re really the terrible, asshole NIMBYs you (and others) seem to claim we are as opposed to somewhat rational people who just want be treated with the respect of at least revising the proposal to make it more feasible for everyone involved- the residents, the homeless served, and the neighborhood itself.