Carroll Gardens Shelter Owner Makes a Mint off Homeless

According to a story in The New York Times on Friday, the city pays landlords a remarkable sum of money to house homeless people. And one of the major beneficiaries has been Alan Lapes who has been trying to turn the empty condo building at 165 West 9th Street in Carroll Gardens into a homeless shelter. The story shows why a homeless shelter may be more lucrative than rentals, even in a neighborhood like Carroll Gardens. According to the story, the city pays $3,000 a month for each person it houses in single room occupancy hotels–rooms with neither kitchen nor bathroom. About half of that goes to the landlord and the rest goes to pay for security and social services, though there have been many complaints that those services are never provided. Lapes owns or leases 20 of the city’s 231 shelters making him the largest operator and one of the few that is for-profit. According to the story, Lapes has been trying to push out long-term tenants to make room for the homeless and, “at several of Mr. Lapes’s shelters, tenants — both homeless and longer-term residents — say the buildings are often characterized by violence, drug-use, mice, broken elevators, periods without heat and hot water, and violations of fire safety laws.” His efforts to convert the 10 unit Carroll Gardens building into a shelter for 170 men has been met with opposition in the community and the comptrollers office has begun an audit of the city’s payments to the company.

For Some Landlords, Real Money in the Homeless  [NY Times] GMAP
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Breaking: Court Blocks Carroll Gardens Homeless Shelter [Brownstoner]
Controversial Carroll Gardens Homeless Shelter Opens [Brownstoner]
Pols, Angry Residents Confront Homeless Shelter Execs [Brownstoner]

Photo by Pardon Me For Asking

8 Comment

  • “the city pays $3,000 a month for each person it houses in single room occupancy hotels–rooms with neither kitchen nor bathroom. About half of that goes to the landlord and the rest goes to pay for security and social services”

    you can rent a studio WITH a bathroom and kitchen for a lot less than that in many parts of Brooklyn. WTF is wrong with the city?? more bureaucratic waste.

  • Stories like this make me see red. In the 90s,the city went through a notorious period where they were housing the homeless and poor in large hotels run by the same kind of unscrupulous criminals. Same thing – big, big bucks for substandard housing that no agency seems to ever be checking to make sure the money is being used correctly.

    You don’t need an advanced degree to understand that when you have an unvoiced, marginalized, off the grid population like the homeless, depending on the “good will” of a for-profit entity like this landlord, added to a city’s deep pockets and inability to provide checks and balances, the result is greed, greed, and more greed.

    And who suffers? The homeless most of all, of course. But also the tax payers who then have to pay for prosecuting and hopefully jailing these clowns, plus additional money for trying to fix it, and provide decent housing for the homeless. We all lose, except these landlords who probably have their profits off-shore by now.

    If this story were about a pack of dogs, or 100 feral cats living in the same conditions, we’d have newspeople and cameras all over it, people would be warming up the tar and feathers for the landlord, and money and offers of adoption would be pouring into pet shelters, for the poor rescued animals. And that’s wonderful. But somehow, when it’s people, homeless people, we really don’t seem to care all that much, which is why these predators get away with it for as long as they do. NIMBY, indeed.

  • Alan Lapes was also named as one of the double-dipping contributors to Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign (contributed the maximum allowed for the current campaign, then contributed an equal amount to pay off de Blasio’s campaign debt from 2009).
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/nyregion/de-blasio-donors-hit-maximum-but-keep-giving.html

  • I think there’s a lot of misplaced outrage about the cost of these things – that $3,000 figure is thrown around a lot because it’s easy to grab onto. As much as it’s easy to blame the city here, it is, in fact, incredibly expensive to run a good shelter with comprehensive staffing and supportive services (whether that’s food, workforce training, mental health services, etc).

    Alan Lapes is not a great guy, but organizations like BRC (mentioned in the Times piece) are doing it right, and that does still take a considerable amount of cash.

    • Actually for Carroll Gardens Alan Lapes proposes to charge $6,000.00 per month PER BUNK BED (holding two men) in a dormitory room. That is a much higher rate than the $3000 per month rate for a small room charged in the SROs.

      This is a shameful and scurrilous rate approved by City Commissioner Seth Diamond and deputy Mayor Linda Gibb.

      It is a mystery to me why Seth Diamond and Linda Gibb’s preferred provider gets paid so much more than other reputable providers.