Assemblymember William Colton, representative of Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Dyker Heights, and City Councilmember-Elect Susan Zhuang demonstrated their opposition to a planned homeless shelter at 86th Street and 25th Avenue on Dec. 3.
The shelter is planned for 2501 86th St. Tejpal Sandhu of 86th Street NY LLC, the developer behind the shelter, originally planned to build at 2147 Bath Ave., but was defeated by community opposition. Sandhu paid $4.8 million for the site.
Colton said that the new building would not provide a lasting benefit to the people it is supposed to serve, “this doesn’t help homeless people, but it does hurt the neighborhood.”
Colton said the city spends approximately $8 billion a year on homeless shelters, “yet there are more homeless people, not fewer.”
Colton is advocating for the money to be spent on permanent housing and repairing empty NYCHA apartments instead. According to Colton, the city has said it intends to house over 100 single males, many with mental health histories, at the site.
“It’s a terrible location for a shelter,” Colton said, “in a main business district surrounded by residential areas, and near churches, mosques and schools.”
Councilmember-elect Zhuang added that, “homeless facilities provide temporary shelter and few support services to residents.” A study by the city’s Independent Budget Office indicated, “many shelters were closed during the day, leaving residents with no place to stay other than in the streets.”
Instead of shelters, Zhuang said, “we should focus on long-term strategies that provide sustainable housing options, access to education and job opportunities, and comprehensive support systems.”
Colton’s staff collected signatures on a petition opposing the shelter from people who attended the rally; in addition, an online petition now has over 4,000 signatures.