What's Up at the Sumner Avenue Armory?


That's what Bed-Stuy residents have been asking ever since a strange flier began making its way through the neighborhood: “Mayor Bloomberg has announced intent to close the Bellevue men’s shelter in Manhattan…the overflow of men (850) will be moved to the Sumner Avenue Armory along with the (350) men from the Atlantic Avenue Shelter…a large number of these men are dangerous felons…some are sexual predators, and some have mental conditions…homeless men are being bused into the Sumner Avenue Armory each night…” Well, City Limits demystifies the rumors about the Armory, and the neighborhood's adverse reaction to changes within it. Henry L. Butler, chairman of the neighborhood's Community Board 3, contacted the Department of Homeless Services, who said no such thing was happening. That didn't make residents feel better, especially since they'd seen homeless folk bused in to the building late at night. The problem, say residents, is that the shelter is supposed to be for working men, down on their luck, not, you know, criminals. And that was fine with them. In November, Bed-Stuyers met with DHS Commissioner Robert V. Hess, who explained that a few stragglers, who can't fit in full shelters, get bused over to spend the night. “So, what happens the next day?” they asked Hess, who replied: “They’re released the next morning and given Metro cards.” That upset some who feared undesirable folks were left to wander the area; for others, the explanation was satisfying. What they'd really like is to see the Armory have a different kind of new life, more like the old. “There was originally a bowling alley in there, a swimming pool, rifle range, horse stable, three catering halls, a gymnasium and a drill field the size of three football fields, all sitting there, not being used," said one resident. "I have the blueprints.”
What's Up at the Armory? [City Limits]

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