Carroll Gardens Shelter Owner Makes a Mint off Homeless

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    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.

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