Greenpoint residents object to homeless shelter

Residents of Greenpoint, Brooklyn are confronted by the reality of homelessness daily.

The Brooklyn Bureau reports that men and women sleep on city sidewalks, in the subway station, in McGlorick and McCarren parks, and under the BQE.

According to a report by the Coalition for the Homeless, New York City as a whole is seeing the highest levels of homelessness since the Great Depression. In 2010, the number of homeless New Yorkers sleeping in the municipal shelter system was 37 percent higher than in 2002.

“People from the neighborhood don’t want to go to a shelter in East New York, where they don’t speak Polish,” says Kansfield. She notes that there are some resources for people close by—but without the right documentation, they have no access to them. Many of the homeless in Greenpoint hardly speak a word of English and some aren’t U.S. citizens, or have no papers or identification to prove that they are.

So why are community leaders objecting to the placement of a homeless shelter on McGuinness Boulevard? BKBureau says it could be the fact that Greenpoint already provides a home for a number of three-quarter houses for recovering addicts:

“The real issue with the three-quarter-house is that it is unmanaged. There’s no commitment to the neighborhood, no regulation,” Reverend Ann Kansfield, co-Pastor of the Greenpoint Reformed Church, who runs a soup kitchen and food pantry there, says. “When it’s poorly run like it is here, it’s a real issue.”

“[We] don’t know if the proposed shelter will have a positive or negative impact… We do know that the hotel is very poorly run,” she adds. Kansfield won’t say whether she supports the proposed shelter, but says, “I support the idea of everyone being able to have a roof over their head.”

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