Learn About Two Homeless Shelters Coming To 4th Avenue At May 1st Meeting

PARK SLOPE – The community is encouraged to attend a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 1 at the John Jay Educational Campus (237 7th Avenue) to discuss two new homeless shelters planned for 535 and 555 4th Avenue in Park Slope.

Council Member Brad Lander is co-hosting the community meeting with Congress Member Nydia Velazquez, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, and Community Boards 6 and 7. (535 4th Avenue, between 14th & 15th Streets, is part of CB6 while 555 4th Avenue, one block south between 15th & 16th Streets, is part of CB7.)

“Conversations around new shelters are not always easy,” Council Member Lander said in an email. “We all wish for a city where no one is homeless. But providing safe, decent shelter for the 60,000 New Yorkers—including 24,000 kids—who will be homeless tonight requires opening new shelters, operated by quality social service organizations, in neighborhoods across the city, including ours.” The Council Member noted that the two planned shelters “are just steps” away from his home.

The two facilities, currently under construction, will be operated by Women in Need (WIN). According to NYC Department of Buildings, a 12-story mixed-use development with residential units was originally planned for 535 4th Avenue while a similar building was planned for 555 4th Avenue.

535 4th Avenue (Photo: Bklyner)

Current plans for 535 4th Avenue include a 148-unit shelter for homeless families which is scheduled to be completed in September 2019. An additional 105 shelter units will be provided at 555 4th Avenue as well as 29 permanent housing units. This facility is expected to be completed in November 2019.

Representatives from WIN and the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) will be on hand at the May 1st meeting to answer any questions and address concerns from community members about the two 4th Avenue shelters.

555 4th Avenue (Photo: Bklyner)

About a mile away at 601 Sackett Street (between 3rd & 4th Avenues), a shelter for 200 men is planned for 2020. This Gowanus facility is located in Council Member Stephen Levin’s district. Bklyner reached out to Levin on Wednesday afternoon to inquire whether he will host community meetings regarding the facility but did not receive a response prior to posting.

In June 2017, the NYC Department of Social Services discussed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide on Homelessness in New York City” plan with Community Board 6. In February of that year the mayor announced the plan which aims to close the 360 cluster sites and commercial hotels across the city that are currently used to house the homeless. The borough-based plan includes replacing these sites with 90 new shelter facilities— opening 20 new shelters annually for five years and renovating existing facilities— and placing homeless New Yorkers closer to their communities, schools, jobs, places of worship, etc.

Park Slope currently has one shelter, CAMBA‘s 100-bed women’s shelter located at 1402 8th Avenue (between 14th & 15th Streets).

In December 2018, DHS opened a temporary shelter in a hotel at 17 Seabring Street in Red Hook. That facility provides 152 beds for adult males, the Red Hook Star reported.

“CB6 is committed to shouldering our fair share in responding to this citywide homeless crisis,” said Michael Racioppo, the community board’s District Manager. “This meeting is a good and early start, to ensure that we safely house those in need of shelter and provide them with those services that integrate them into our community and move them toward permanent homes. Of course, there are always legitimate questions about how to design the locations, the support services and the qualifications of providers, and this is an opportunity to start asking those questions.”

“I hope Park Slope residents will join us at the community meeting on May 1st, so we can get our questions answered, and make plans together both to address any concerns and to welcome our new neighbors,” Council Member Lander added.

Community Meeting To Discuss 535 & 555 4th Avenue Shelters
Wednesday, May 1, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
John Jay Educational Campus, 237 7th Avenue

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Pamela Wong

Pam was a staff reporter at Bklyner, covering North-Western parts of Brooklyn between 2016 and 2019. She also writes about art at arthag.typepad.com.


  1. The shelters should be on 11th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, near Bar Toto. de Blasio’s legacy.

  2. Those buildings are gigantic. I live in the neighborhood and I’m surprised that both buildings will be used as shelters. I was appalled by how massive they were before I knew they were going to be shelters. Now I’m really concerned. And I live on a block in the neighborhood with a homeless shelter, FYI. The building on my block is tiny in comparison with these two buildings.

  3. I thought the idea was to parcel out these shelters across many neighborhoods. Placing these two enormous shelters across the street from one another AND just down the street from the women’s shelter AND the transitional housing on 5th and 16th is a huge concentration in one small area.

  4. I don’t wish anyone to be in need of housing but why are the Sunset Park and Park Slope areas burdened with so many shelters? I don’t see any in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Borough Park, Kensington, Windsor Terrace but Fourth Avenue has shelters on every other street and in this case, two huge buildings in one area. I don’t see this in other areas of the city like Bayside and Whitestone in Queens, certainly not in the Upper East Side of Manhattan or around Tribeca or Battery Park City. This is not fair. We need even distribution in ALL NEIGHBORHOODS OF NEW YORK CITY! I hope at this meeting, there will be information as to how many shelters are going to be set up in NYC and where. Also, I’d like to know about plans for permanent housing because being humans being warehoused in transient housing is not a good solution.

  5. This is a big problem. We do not need this in our neighborhood. We already have plenty of shelters and I don’t see any shelters in Bourogh Park, in Cobble Hill, or in Dumbo. Best believe the entire neighborhood is coming together to get this out of here. You are not welcome. Put them next door to De Blasio. I am concerned for my safety of my kids and for my family. This is a huge issue Park Slope!! Let’s wake up and take action.

  6. I will be at the meeting. I live in the immediate shadow of these buildings and will say, personally, I am most concerned about the scale and the lack of transparency surrounding this deal. This announcement was quietly released and buried in a news dump on Thursday night before Good Friday/Passover. Up until recently — and I’m talking about as recently as this past Sunday, when a glossy feature ran in the NYT real estate section about development on this stretch of 4th Avenue (and these buildings specifically) — the line that had been sold to nearby residents was that these buildings would contain a mix of market rate and affordable housing units and ground floor retail that would enliven a somewhat barren corridor. (I dared hope we might get a grocery store.) I understand the dire need for homeless support and agree with the city’s mission to better integrate the homeless into communities and, I quote, “get rid of an ad-hoc network of shelter units in favor of high-quality facilities distributed more equitably throughout the boroughs.” But let’s look at the facts: there is already a 48-unit homeless transitional housing facility on the corner of 16th Street and 5th Avenue and a 100-bed women’s homeless shelter on 15th Street and 8th Avenue. How is adding another 250+ units (not beds — units, each of which might house 2-4 people) to the same 2-block radius in one neighborhood an equitable distribution? There is also the issue of scale. We’re talking about a combined 24 stories. It is very hard to get information re: the location and size of the other shelters the city has been opening. Have any been of this size? And if they haven’t been, how is there any way to trust the city’s reassurances re: low impact to the community?

  7. These two large buildings dwarf those in the surrounding area, there are already two shelters in close proximity, and will be located directly across the street from a school for grades Pre-K through 5. After doing some research, it sounds like these developers will be making huge profits by operating these buildings as shelters instead of residential buildings since other news articles indicate that the city pays above market rates for shelter units. One has been under construction since 2015 and the other currently has a stop work order for unsafe working conditions. Based on the density of shelters on these two city blocks, it seems like it will be very bad economically for this stretch of 4th Avenue at the very corner of South Park Slope and Gowanus. The politicians will get to say that there are technically more shelters in Park Slope, and the children in the shelters won’t be attending any of the more desirable Park Slope schools due to zoning. The operator WIN also looks to increase their budget a lot. Their website says they currently operate just over 1200 units, so an additional 282 units appears to be nearly a 25% increase for them as well. The Glassdoor reviews and reviews of their other shelters on google maps don’t paint them in the best light. I wish there was more community input. This must have been in the works for a long time, and a two minute announcement at a community board meeting on April 17th makes me think the city is trying to get this through quickly before residents realize what’s happening.

  8. We already feel the effects of the very small Women’s shelter at the Armory. The women are out in the neighborhood day and night- several are very unwell, maybe not receiving the help they need. Perhaps the homeless families will not be at such a high level of distress. But this puts me and my children directly in between two shelters, a block and a half in each direction.

  9. I’m all for homeless shelters, but have you ever heard of one that is 100x the size of the buildings next to it? These shelters are ~300 units which means roughly 500-1000 homeless people when all the buildings next door are 3-unit townhouses. They have about the same number of people as all of 14th, 15th, and 16th Streets combined! Build a shelter that fits into the neighborhood for goodness sake, not a monstrosity that literally towers above it.

    It worries me is that each building straddles a police precinct, and is as far away as possible from a precinct house. 535 4th Ave is in the 78th Precinct, with the precinct house way up near Flatbush Avenue. 555 4th Avenue is in the 72nd Precinct, with the precinct house way down on 30th Street. Every time we call in an issue, it’ll be either “the other precinct’s problem” or it’ll take the police a trek across town to resolve. Shelters this enormous ought to have services nearby that help lessen their impact on the neighborhood.

    I looked into why the developers are motivated to convert these buildings to homeless shelters in the first place and it’s incredible how this is all being paid for. NYC spends $73,000 to provide emergency shelter for homeless families over their average length of stay in one of these facilities! How much of that money do you think the homeless family sees? NYC is paying the developers a 20% premium over market rate tenants to use them as homeless shelters, and now they won’t even need to look for renters!

  10. Where is the transparency in this?? Mayor DeBlasio claims to be transparent but he is anything but that. Making secret deals with greedy developers to impact a community that has its fair share of Homeless Shelters. These are huge developments one 12 story high and encompasses all of 14 st to 15 st on 4th ave and the other 11 story bet. 15 st and 16 st. Where in this city is there a Homeless Shelter of this scope near to an elementary school??
    I pray the community turns out at the meeting to fight this deliberate betrayal by our elected officials to force a Homeless Shelter down our throats!! Where were the Public Hearings in regard to the use of these sites as shelters? Online write-ups indicate these developments were mixed use, with luxury rental apts and retail space. They lied and leads me to believe worse things are to come.

  11. They have rights to live they are human being how else they suppose to leave and get their own place.

  12. There was no clarity on this situation before hand and the DHS did not consult the community before putting through these plans. It was very briefly mentioned during one meeting and there has been barely any coverage on it in the news. We need to let our voices be heard as it is not okay for this overwhelming amount of people to be put in such a very close vicinity of each other. We have been betrayed by officials who are prioritizing their own interests and money over Park Slope residents. Please spread the word and show up to the meeting Wednesday May 1st. We were misled and must set this situation right.

  13. Gowanus is getting a massive rezoning shoved down our throats because of the need for more housing – yet 2 sites that could be turned in to affordable housing are being turned in to homeless shelters? Is there ANYWHERE else in the city with this concentration? I am fine with the ones we already have, even bring more in – just make them to the scale of the neighborhood. I am amazed at the lack of transparency in all of this, what did the developers get out of this to agree to walk away from these projects? No surprise Brad Lander is all for this and the Gowanus rezoning, he’s looking towards his next run for office and needs all that developer money.

  14. I feel sad—for several reasons. I am sad because no one should have to be homeless. I am very happy that NYC is taking strides to support people and help them find success. I am also sad because we pay so incredibly much to afford our apartment right next door. We are lucky to be able to have been raised with all the ‘right stuff’ so it is also our privilege to work to earn the money we do to afford our apartment, but it’s not easy. Sometimes it’s even a little scary. But we thought the area we chose to rent in was an investment for our family. Now, I’m reading about incidences if crime and safety and feeling sad that while a system that means well doesn’t always work like it’s meant to… I’m sad for myself and my family but also all of the lovely people who just need a little help. I’d love to know what programs and extra measures are being offered on top of this specialty housing to assure people get the help and care they need to bring (And maybe keep) the community to a higher standard, inviting compassion by sharing perspectives? Wouldn’t it be nice if this worked well and proved to be a great thing for everyone? Of course, that’s what I’m hoping.

  15. Maybe now the homeless guys on the corner of Prospect ave and 4th will finally have somewhere to live. So, they can walk to work ,back on the corners.They have only been out there for years. Sleeping under the prospect expressway. That corner is a hot spot for anyone that hustles for a buck.

  16. I am outraged. Besides the very valid issues of concentration and transparency discussed by the other concerned residents, I am also fret with terror for the safety of our community. It is well established that the majority of homeless New Yorkers are people living with mental illness or other severe health problems. Untreated mental illness is linked with an increased propensity for violence. Not to mention- paraphyllic disorders are mental illnesses as well. How is the city going to allow potential sex offenders to live within a one block radius from an elementary school? And furthermore, how is the already overcrowded elementary school going to handle this influx of homeless students? If the city is planning on housing these people here, they’ll need money to provide the resources for their social services, education, their health, and their safety. I, for one, do not plan to pay higher taxes in return for living in an unsafe neighborhood. This situation demands action. I implore all those concerned citizens to appear at the city council meeting tomorrow night and take a stand against this!

  17. What opportunities do we have to affect any change over the situation? Is it a done deal? What happens to the developers (who constructed their buildings with integrity) in the area or homeowners whose home value will likely dive. I’m lucky in that I rent. Yes, we just resigned, which isn’t ideal, but we are free to leave after the lease is up, which we will likely do, but we will be curious tonight.

  18. If anyone from the community plans to file a lawsuit to stop this project please post details so we may lend support. We don’t want WIN or these shelters in our neighborhood.

    Homelessness is a difficult issue and everyone deserves dignity and respect. The concern here is the way WIN and the city made this decision on behalf of the neighborhood without including the community in the decision process. These buildings are massive and will create a large concentration of homeless in a small neighborhood with an eroding infrastructure that hardly supports its existing tax-paying residents. Sure the buildings were previously zoned for the area, but zoning doesn’t consider the fact that homeless populations have disproportionately more cases of mental illness and drug addiction. For myself and many other concerned citizens this is not an anti-homeless issue; we are simply against the city’s methods of enriching developers and organizations like WIN in the name of public good. This project reeks of corruption and lacks common sense. Perhaps if NYC paid more attention to helping hard-working citizens struggling to pay rent and taxes, there would be fewer people finding themselves in the awful situation of homelessness.

  19. This is certainly a surprise to those of us who live in the immediate neighborhood. It was bad enough to see these two giant buildings go up, blocking light, removing our views, and knocking down human-scale buildings to replace them with glass/steel behemoths, but now they plan to use both are enormous shelters? The neighborhood is trying to get better (I live 1/2 a block away) yet anyone who lives on that stretch of 4th Avenue knows there are no stores, no services, no grocery shops – nothing and nowhere for people to shop at. Where are these thousands of people going to do their grocery shopping? What schools will these kids go to? How will they get there?

    I’m all for helping people and my understanding was that a portion of these buildings would be dedicated to low-income residents, which is great. And if these buildings held a few dozen families, it would help them integrate into the neighborhood better. But this is a terrible idea.

  20. It’s is always a very bad idea to have a concentration of homeless shelters or public housing for that matter clumped in one place. Would be better to have sprinkled smaller shelters of say 10-20 units max throughout the city in mixed income neighborhoods that give the poor good modeling to improve their lives. Project housing/public housing is a failure because of their concentration of poor and low income families in one place. This idea because of its scale will also fail.

  21. Aside from the whole issue of these buildings becoming homeless shelters, I am opposed to this over development of 4th Avenue period. We’ve had one construction project after another on 4th Ave for the last 10 years since they changed the zoning to allow these monstrosities. Meanwhile, no infrastructure to support this has been added…not schools, not additional police, the fire station was closed before all this building started and it’s already impossible to get on the 4th Avenue subway in the morning…wait until these buildings fill up!! Businesses that supported the neighborhood have been closed to build more housing that no longer has businesses to support the increase in population. Think about this NYC… MTA…. NYPD….NYFD…NYPS… before adding another condo or shelter to THIS area.

  22. I have already seen “for sale” signs going up! I’ve owned my home for 38 years, raised my kids here and was a good neighbor. Now this is what I get for all my hard work. At this stage of my life, it would have been nice to own a home with a great property value. I would have like to have some money to help me live out retirement in comfort.

  23. LOL. All the NIMBY from the NYC liberal crowd. Vote Bernie and AOC…but *gasp* why so many shelters in Park Slope/Gowanus! I wanted to drink beer and throw axes with my spoiled non-binary children, but now I will have to be around the homeless being housed! *pearl clutch* (before those transients swipe my pearls!)

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