A Brooklyn hotel is being converted into a homeless shelter months after outraged neighborhood residents sent around letters saying the city had been renting rooms for homeless men for some time.
The Sleep Inn on 49th Street in Sunset Park is being converted into a 150-bed shelter for men by the end of November, Brooklyn Councilman Carlos Menchaca said in a Facebook post Thursday.
The move comes as Brownstoner reports a letter circulated around the neighborhood accusing the city’s Department of Homeless Services of renting 100 beds at the hotel as overflow from other shelters in the city.
The hotel is already currently housing 100 homeless men, and is planning to add 50 more beds, the Department of Homeless Services confirmed. It will be operated by Samaritan Village, who will oversee all program, security, maintenance, housekeeping and property management services.
Menchaca said in his post that he spoke with DHS about his concerns.
“In (Thursday’s) conversation, the tone was one of serious concern for respecting our community and sincere care for upholding the humanity of homeless people,” he wrote on Facebook. “My goal is to ensure city agencies keep their obligation to Sunset Park’s safety and quality of life while they serve and uphold the dignity of homeless New Yorkers.”
The Department of Homeless Services said the facility will have both job training and clinical services to support the shelter residents, and there will be around-the-clock security inside and outside the building, with guards making rounds every 30 minutes to ensure residents' and community safety.
According to Menchaca’s post, the men filling the shelter will either have jobs or are looking for work, but in the letter published in Brownstoner, residents said that the men staying at the shelter were unscreened and appeared to have been under the influence of drugs in the streets and in the neighborhood’s eponymous park.
"In the morning and the afternoon, they sit and they start smoking and doing bad things," said neighbor Johanna Nin, who's unhappy about the shelter conversion.
"I don't think it's fair. They didn't say anything, they start bringing the people there and we didn't know it," she said.
"I'm sorry but not here," said another neighbor, Augustina Cruz.
Records show 311 complaints about homelessness in the neighborhood have doubled in the last six months. More than 57,000 people in New York City are currently in shelters, and the city acknowledges homelessness is on the rise, and it's become one of Mayor de Blasio's signature issues.
The DHS said the de Blasio administraion has already helped 38,000 people exit city shelters to go to permanent housing in the past year.