Monday, April 13, 2009

Central Brooklyn Ensures Due Process for Homeless Intake Center

Central Brooklyn elected, Brooklyn Community Board 8, Crow Hill Association, Crown Heights North Association and other community groups put their collective foot down, Sunday March 8, to ensure the City Department of Homeless Services complies with land use/fair share analysis, environmental reviews, and responding substantively to community concerns regarding converting the Bedford-Atlantic Shelter into the City’s homeless men’s intake center by retaining the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

The law firm’s retention was officially announced at a press conference on the steps of City Hall. In attendance included Council member Letitia James who made the announcement and introduced succeeding speakers; NYS Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council member David Weprin and Jim Waldon, partner, and Randy Manstro of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. At issue is the logic of redirecting some 14,000 men to Brooklyn for intake assessment and shelter when 60% of NYC’s homeless men subsist in Manhattan. Many at the press conference believe the move to Brooklyn will put more homeless on the streets of Manhattan. Bedford-Atlantic Shelter’s notorious reputation as the worst DHS facility coupled with the recent closing of St. Mary’s Hospital and insufficient mental health services for the thousands of men requiring it appears to doom the move for failure. The current Manhattan-based men’s intake center is adjacent to the Bellevue Hospital Complex.

While Randy Manstro explained it is “premature to initiate litigation”, Assembly member Jeffries views the retaining as “the means to keep the Bloomberg administration within the law.” Borough President Markowitz quipped, “The move is not right for the homeless; not right for Brooklyn; and not right for Manhattan’s homeless.” Markowitz explained, “Manhattan’s male homeless population is larger than the combined numbers of the other four boroughs.”
Picture the Homeless Deborah Dickerson asked, “When are we going to give the homeless permanent housing? “ Dickerson believes it’s time to make feasible plans for permanent housing. Providing permanent housing rather than more temporary shelter that requires supportive services would bode well with Crown Heights Revitalization Movement Rachel Pratt’s observation that “northern Crown Heights has six times the median in social services in Brooklyn.”

Faye Moore, president of Social Service Employees Union, Local 371 brought attention to the plight of the some 200 employees at the Manhattan intake center who are scheduled to be laid off July 1, 2009. Rather than be laid off, these people are needed to continue managing and maintaining a homeless shelter. Moore stated, “The homeless don’t need to be wandering Brooklyn looking for help, it needs to be near them.”

Is the move part of a bigger plan? Could elitism be at play? The neighborhood wherein Bellevue shelter is located changed its socio-demographics in the last two decades. Rose Hill is now a more affluent community that had one developer want to build a hotel. Peter Katonah from St. Senator Eric Adams’ office questions whether “this is an attempt by the elite of Manhattan to rid itself of the homeless.”

Local 371 president concurs. Moore points to “80% of the City’s budget cuts are in social services.” Moore opines the cuts mean to destabilize the working families to a point where it’s not feasible for a middle-income to reside in NYC and two distinct classes will remain: the rich and the poor.

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3 Comments:

At November 22, 2009 at 9:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At December 31, 2009 at 11:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At January 11, 2010 at 11:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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