On October 4, the community board received a letter from Housing Solutions U.S.A./Aguila stating that the company would be opening a homeless shelter at 165 West 9th Street in one month. Under an “emergency contract” rule, the city granted the organization the ability to open up the homeless shelter without community approval, and only required the community be notified 30 days of its opening.
In contrast, the standard process for gaining approval and opening up a homeless shelter takes between six months to a year, according to Alex Zablocki, a spokesman with the Department of Housing Services
This proposed facility will house 170 single homeless men. Construction is already underway and beds have been brought into the facility as it sets to open its doors sometime after November 4.
In addition to Zablocki, Robert Hess, CEO of Housing Solutions, also attended last week’s meeting. The two fielded questions and received strong criticism from community members regarding the homeless shelter.
A 10 p.m. curfew will be put in place at the facility, however when residents found out that the curfew is more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule, they weren't pleased. Zablocki explained that while the homeless shelter will encourage people to be in bed by 10 p.m., if they show up after that they can get a bed. If one isn't available, a vehicle will pick them up and transport them to a different facility.
Zablocki explained to residents that every homeless shelter site in the city is designed to meet the needs of different people. For instance, he said that certain shelters are created to house the homeless based on gender, their ability to find a job, or addiction.
He said that the community of Carroll Gardens shouldn't be worried because this facility is designed for “employable men.”
When a resident asked if the rumors of beds being delivered to the facility were true, Hess said yes, but explained that the beds themselves are a tool to show the city what the homeless shelter will look like to assist in the decision-making process.
Despite being told that security guards will be on the premises on 24-hour shifts, along with cameras inside the facility, residents were not satisfied.
“What are you people going to do extra?” one resident asked. “You have to give us some safety as well.”
Zablocki said that he attends public meeting such as these frequently, and hears the same concerns.
“After six months or so, the fears of the community don't come to fruition,” he said.
State Senator Daniel Squadron, who near the proposed shelter is moving into spoke at the meeting on Wednesday. Squadron said,
“As a Carroll Garden resident we do understand fair share,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron, who lives near the proposed shelter. “The problem is this proposal is ill-conceived and ill-thought.”