Despite widespread opposition to the opening of new homeless shelter at 1217 Bedford Avenue, a petition in support of the center currently is collecting signatures.
The petition was started by John J. Joyner Jr., a Bed-Stuy resident who has proclaimed his intentions to challenge City Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy for the 36th District City Council seat.
Joyner said he started the petition September 1, 2015, in response to the petition opposing the shelter. His petition currently has more than 80 signatures.
However, the opposition to the shelter also has grown, with more than 650 signatures. And on August 30, Councilmember Cornegy, along with Community Board 3, held a town hall meeting where hundreds of residents turned out in protest, arguing that with 13 homeless shelters in Bed-Stuy already and with none in some of the surrounding neighborhoods, another shelter would be in direct counter to the Fair Share Criteria act that calls for the equitable distribution of “burdens and benefits” associated with city facilities across all communities.
However, Joyner says there are many residents that support the shelter’s opening.
“There are residents that didn’t attend the meeting that feel that the shelter should be built,” said Joyner. “When we do this, we leave our youth out. Our youth need the assurance and the security of a home in their downfalls. We need to support that.”
He added, a transitional shelter– or drop-in center– is designed specifically to help people move toward independence, and that the services provided are important to both youth and adults in Bedford-Stuyvesant, including those who are working to avoid homelessness.
“… Our youth need the assurance and the security of a home in their downfalls. We need to support that.”
Breaking Ground, the non-profit housing organization that responded to the City’s request for proposal to site the shelter in Bed-Stuy, noted that services provided at drop-in centers, such as housing and medical services, are available to anyone who comes in, even if they are not homeless. .
Joyner said he decided to counter the opposition to the drop-in center primarily to combat the stigma that all those living in shelters are pedophiles, drug users or people who have sexual assault cases.
“And that is not the case,” he said. “They misinterpret and misunderstand residents of shelters.”