Despite a Bedford-Stuyvesant source with inside knowledge saying the city has decided to not put in a controversial homeless drop-in center at 1217 Bedford Avenue, both the City’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the non-profit organization slated to run the center say the site is still being evaluated.
Either way, the lack of transparency and mixed messages on the issue is continuing as the neighborhood is already struggling with having 14 homeless shelters and the most homeless students of any school district in the borough.
Under the plan, the non-profit organization Breaking Ground would run the transitional residence and drop-in center at the site, and if approved, it would hold 30 beds for transitional residence and a drop-in center capacity for 75 homeless adults.
But one well-placed source said the city will not be putting in a shelter at that site, and that the decision was made near the very top of the de Blasio Administration.
To which DHS Spokesperson Lauren Gray insisted the shelter is still on the table. “We are currently in the process of evaluating this location,” she said, not adding any further details about when a decision will be made.
Another well-placed Bed-Stuy source said the city was angry at Breaking Ground for jumping the gun by letting Community Board 3 know of their intentions before they even submitted plans to the city’s Request for Proposals (RFP) to run the drop-in center. The source said they weren’t even sure if Breaking Ground even submitted their RFP yet.
But Breaking Ground Spokesperson Jeff Scheuer said the organization responded to the RFP several months ago and is still pursing to run it. “DHS can hopefully provide any additional information you may need for your coverage,” said Scheuer, also refusing to add any details.
The lack of transparency comes just two months after both Breaking Ground and DHS held a “listening session” before an overflow crowd of Bed-Stuy residents, and elected officials at Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton Street.
A great majority of residents at that meeting voiced concerns about the proposed drop-in center including business leaders such as Michael Lambert, executive director for the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway BID (Business Improvement District), who noted the center’s close proximity to the neighborhoods bustling business center along Fulton Street.
Others, such as Community Board 3 District Manager Henry Butler, said the drop in center would add more burden in an area already saturated with homeless shelters. He noted how the Good Samaritan Homeless Shelter for emotionally disturbed homeless men on Myrtle Avenue between Throop Avenue and Marcus Garvey Boulevard has caused a number of continuing problems in the neighborhood.
But the main issue with residents was that putting yet another shelter in Bed-Stuy goes directly against the city charter that states all neighborhoods would share in the burden of remedying the social ills of society on an equal basis.