By Rachel Holliday Smith – DNA Info
A homeless shelter for families is set to open soon in a new apartment building on Rogers Avenue, the Department of Homeless Services said Wednesday — not at a building next door as the city incorrectly announced last month.
Residents are organizing to fight the opening of the shelter for 132 families that will open at 267 Rogers Ave., a large complex wrapping up construction on Rogers Avenue between Carroll and Crown streets in Crown Heights. Previously, the city had erroneously announced the facility would open at 265 Rogers Ave., a small three-story brick building across the street, a spokesman for DHS said.
The shelter, one of three in the Crown Heights area slated to open as part of the mayor’s plan to overhaul DHS, will be run by Samaritan Village, a Queens-based social services organization, the city said.
Neighbors of the Rogers Avenue shelter said this week they are preparing to fight its opening. Dion Ashman, president of the Crown Street Block Association between Bedford and Rogers avenues, is holding a meeting Wednesday night to discuss “our next course of action,” he said.
He said he felt “totally disrespected” when he first heard about the shelter plan.
“I felt that we were taken advantage of because somebody had to have known this was going to happen and no one thought to inform the neighborhood,” he said.
According to DHS, the community was notified about the shelter Feb. 15. The city has said communities will be alerted at least 30 days prior to the opening of a new shelter. So far, the city has publicly released the addresses of only five of the 90 planned locations.
“This administration is deeply committed to an open community notification process, including providing at least 30 days’ notice and, where possible, making adjustments based on community feedback to ensure our facilities are seamlessly integrated into the community and our clients receive a warm welcome,” said DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn.
McGinn stressed that while the Rogers Avenue facility opens, 16 shelter sites out of a total of 19 in the area will close soon, bringing the total number of shelters down to four.
There is no opening date set for the shelter, which will house both DHS-referred homeless families and tenants of affordable housing, DHS said; 80 percent of the new building’s units will be set aside for DHS and the other 20 percent will be affordable apartments.
The Rogers Avenue building has been under construction by developer Heights Advisors since 2014 when the Church of St. Ignatius was demolished to make way for the residential project.
The facility would be one of the first of 90 new shelters planned by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to revamp homeless housing citywide. Three of the first five shelters are in the Crown Heights area. One, in Prospect Heights, opened earlier this month.
A second, located at 1173 Bergen St., has faced stiff opposition from residents who are suing to keep it closed. On Tuesday, a Brooklyn judge indefinitely halted its opening as part of legal action against the facility by two block associations and dozens of residents who said the neighborhood is already home to more than its fair share of the shelters.
The meeting of the Crown Street Block Association will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at 186 Crown St. in Crown Heights, Ashman said.
A DHS spokesman said the city will hold a public meeting about the shelter soon, but no date has been set.