Draft Contracts For 4th Avenue Homeless Shelters Fail To Disclose Details

PARK SLOPE – The city will spend $261 million over nine years to operate two new homeless shelters in Park Slope—scheduled to open on 4th Avenue in September and December of this year. However, not much more information can be found on the facilities from the draft contracts available for review by the public at the Human Resources Administration’s central office in Lower Manhattan.

535 4th Avenue & 555 4th Avenue (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

In fact, the vast majority of the contract’s explicit numbers are not filled in. The only numbers available are the total amount the city has budgeted to pay the homeless services provider, Women in Need (WIN): $147 million for 535 4th Avenue and $114 million for 555 4th Avenue, information that was posted online on June 14.

Missing from the draft contracts is information on the shelters’ annual operating budget, repair allowance, “start-up funding” (for items in the facilities such as furniture), and the rent per occupied unit. The contracts cannot be viewed without HRA staff present in the room, and taking photos, audio, or video of the documents is prohibited.

The Department of Homeless Services, an agency under the umbrella of the HRA, announced in May that it would be siting the shelters in problematic developments being built on 4th Avenue by Slate Property Group and Adam America. 

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535 will have 148 units while 555 will have 105, for a total of 253 units. A spokesperson for DHS provided documents to Bklyner showing that rent would break down to approximately $6.3 million per year at 535 and $4.6 million per year at 555, just over a third of the total annual contract value for each of the shelters. These costs were not included in the draft contract, as HRA claimed it was a matter between WIN and the developers. WIN, Slate, and Adam America did not respond to requests to confirm these numbers.

Per the department’s numbers, monthly rents would equal about $3,500 per unit at 535 and $3,600 per unit at 555. Other costs include food, maintenance, round-the-clock security, childcare, educational services, social services, and mental health services. Services will include assistance in finding permanent housing and employment and developing “independent living plans.” 

Both contracts were won using “HHS Accelerator,” an online portal designed to make the city’s procurement process more efficient and simplify the contract awarding process.

A contract hearing is scheduled for 10am on Thursday, June 27 at 22 Reade Street in Manhattan where the public can submit testimony about the facilities.

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Ben Brachfeld

Ben Brachfeld

Ben Brachfeld is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn. His work has also appeared in Gotham Gazette and Gothamist. On Twitter @benbrachfeld.


  1. Thank you, excellent reporting. I too visited DHS to view the contracts and found that they contained no budget information at all except for the top line numbers which had been previously made public. In particular, there was no information about what the City is indirectly (through Christine Quinn’s WIN) paying Adam America and Slate Property Group for these properties. The DHS representative I spoke to told me the budget has not been completed and that he therefore could not answer any questions related to it. The contract is a boilerplate legal document, with no details regarding the services the City is contracting for. Maintenance of the buildings is mentioned but the cost of maintenance is X’d out. The contract stipulates that WIN must provide caseworkers but does not specify the number. It does not say anything about security. It does not specify the number of security officers or other security features such as cameras. It does not require WIN to itself provide medical care, food, etc. but requires WIN to help clients apply for “income assistance” including disability, child support, food stamps, medical assistance, etc. The contract requires WIN to “help clients secure” permanent housing, health services, child support, food services, recreational services, and case management. It is not clear which if any of these services WIN will provide itself or at what level of service.

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