GOWANUS – A new homeless shelter for single men is coming to Gowanus.
The 200-bed men’s shelter is slated to open at 601 Sackett Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues, in 2020 and will be operated by Fedcap, a non-profit vocational training service based in Manhattan. The facility will be geared towards single adult men who are employed or actively seeking employment. Fedcap will provide services such as job readiness training and job search assistance, as well as providing on-site employment caseworkers.
Fedcap currently operates a vocational service office and a rehab center in Brooklyn. The Sackett Street site will be the first homeless shelter they operate in the borough.
The Sackett Street site is the second shelter announced for the Gowanus neighborhood within the past year, and the fourth within the area. In late August, plans for a shelter on Third Avenue were announced on a site that was originally planned as a hotel, while earlier this year two shelters on 4th Avenue were announced.
The official budget for the new shelter is still being worked out, but DHS sources told Bklyner the draft contract sits at an over-estimate of $60 million over a nine-year period. This number is preliminary and will most likely be lowered once the final contract figure is agreed upon.
The Department of Homeless Services plans on ending the use of commercial hotels and cluster sites, which are privately owned apartments that the city rents to house homeless families, in the area (Community District 6). There are currently 429 homeless individuals housed across three commercial hotels in the district.
“This high-quality facility will offer 200 New Yorkers experiencing homelessness from Brooklyn the opportunity to be sheltered in their home borough, closer to their support networks and the communities they called home as they get back on their feet,” said DHS spokesperson Arianna Fishman.
The new shelter is part of the Mayor’s Turning the Tide on Homelessness plan, which aims to house homeless New Yorkers in their home boroughs by shifting to a borough-based shelter approach and to end the use of commercial hotel and cluster site housing by opening 90 new shelters citywide. Bklyner reported in August that the Mayor’s plan is behind schedule, with only 25 shelters opened in the past two-and-a-half years. Forty shelters were supposed to be built within the first two years of the initiative.
There are currently 17,000 homeless New Yorkers sheltered in Brooklyn, roughly 20 percent of whom are housed in cluster sites and commercial hotels, per DHS statistics.
Homeless shelter plans in the area have been received with mixtures of outrage and support from locals. Two shelters in the works nearby at 535 and 555 4th Avenue for homeless families have resulted in heated public meetings and accusations of corruption.
Community Board 6, where three of the four planned shelters are located (555 4th Avenue is located in Community Board 7), is supportive of the plan to move homeless individuals into higher quality shelters.
“We support shouldering our fair share of facilities in response to the citywide homelessness crisis,” said Mike Racioppo, District Manager of Community Board 6. “Dedicated shelters, with necessary support services, are absolutely preferable to hotels built for other purposes.”
Racioppo added that CB6 is taking into account the concerns that many residents have, and will be monitoring the track records and quality of the service providers running the shelter as well as the design of the shelter.
“We look to ensure that the community gets the opportunity to ask and receive answers to such questions,” Racioppo said.
Councilman Stephen Levin, whose district the Sackett Street shelter lies within, did not return a request for comment.
DHS will establish a Community Advisory Board for the new shelter that will hold regular public meetings where locals can have any concerns addressed. Local elected officials will be given 30 days’ notice prior to the opening of the shelter.
The killing of four homeless men in Manhattan’s Chinatown over the weekend has prompted advocates to call on the Mayor to do more to house the city’s homeless, including creating more units of affordable housing.