The city has begun removing children from the Auburn shelter in Fort Greene that was the subject of a Times expose in December, The New York Times reported. The move revealed that de Blasio is planning major changes to the way the city deals with the homeless — changes that are just beginning to take shape.

The city used to refer homeless families to federally funding housing; when that ended, they offered them rent subsidies. But as federal funding for those programs also dried up, the city housed them in shelters. By the time Bloomberg left office, the number of homeless people living in shelters “had peaked at more than 52,000 — the highest number on record since the Great Depression,” said the Times.

That number includes more than 80,000 school-age children who were homeless in 2013.

“There are major American cities that have the same population as we have people in shelter,” the story quoted de Blasio as saying. “We have to look this in the face. This is literally an unacceptable dynamic, and we have to reverse it.”

New efforts will include prevention, a version of the former rent subsidy program using state money, enhancement of anti-eviction legal services for families, and an “aftercare” support program to keep newly housed families from returning to the shelter system.

The Auburn shelter will stay open but for adults only. It is also getting a revamp and a restaurant training program. The shelter has been repeatedly cited for shocking conditions, including “vermin, mold, lead exposure, an inoperable fire safety system, insufficient child care and the presence of sexual predators.”

The city is in the process of relocating 400 children and their families from Auburn and another shelter in downtown Manhattan to more appropriate family housing.

“I think the central thrust has to be getting at the root causes,” of homelessness, said the Mayor. “Greater supply of affordable housing. Pushing up wages and benefits. More preventative efforts.”

Perhaps the city will consider housing families instead of single men on 9th Street in Carroll Gardens, as the community there has requested. What do you think of the new administration’s approach to the problem of homelessness?

New York Is Removing Over 400 Children From Two Homeless Shelters [NY Times]
Inside a Fort Greene Homeless Shelter [Brownstoner]
Photo by Scott Scott Bintner for PropertyShark


City Councilman Brad Lander and seven other Carroll Gardens residents, including developers and architects, testified against the proposed contract with Aguila Inc. to run a homeless shelter in Carroll Gardens at a city hearing this morning. Another 12 submitted written statements, and the Coalition for Carroll Gardens submitted 500 signatures against the contract.

“They felt good about it,” said Coalition for Carroll Gardens chair Steven Miller of those who attended the meeting. He said he expects the city will take about six weeks to review the testimony.

Critics of the proposal have argued that the building at 165 West 9th Street, above, which consists of 10 apartments and one commercial unit, is too small to house 170 homeless men, which would not be allowed under the current certificate of occupancy. Aguila and the Department of Homeless Services have said they would not house any homeless people in violation of city rules or laws.

In January, the owner filed an Alt-1 to change the C of O from J-2 residential to R-1 residential (hotels and dormitories) in January. The permit was approved in March, and is now on hold with a notice to revoke dated today.

City Ignores Community Board Rec on Carroll Gardens Homeless Shelter [Brownstoner]
Closing Bell: Brad Lander to Give Update on Controversial Homeless Shelter Tonight [Brownstoner]


The owner or this building at 60 Clarkson Avenue in Flatbush is doing his best to get rid of his paying tenants. No, the building is not going to be converted to condos or torn down for new development. However, this scheme may be just as lucrative–housing homeless families for the city. WNYC reported yesterday that the landlord is evicting paying tenants and leaving the building in a terrible state of neglect. According to the report, the building has 215 housing code violations. The majority of tenants have left the building. According to WNYC, inside the apartment of one of a dozen or so renters who has refused to leave, “The sticky traps in the kitchen…are covered in dead roaches. The insects even make their way into her freezer.  The whole building is dirty and in need of repair.  The elevators smell like urine, and the trash rooms in the hall overflow with garbage.” The tenant pays $700 a month. The city will pay about $3,000 a month (in SROs it will pay $3,000 per room) though a portion of that fee goes to cover the cost of counseling and security. The city is under a court order to provide housing to anyone seeking help and the number of those in the shelter system has grown dramatically since 2011 when the state and city ended funding for programs to help homeless people find permanent housing. The same skewed math is at the heart of the controversial effort to turn the ten-unit building at 165 West 9th Street in Carroll Gardens into a homeless shelter for 170 men. The city is now leasing 2,500 apartments from landlords at these rates, an increase of 66 percent since 2011.

To Create Housing for Homeless, Landlords Evict Paying Tenants [WNYC]