One Fourth Avenue Family Homeless Shelter Is Open; Other To Open In The Fall

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

PARK SLOPE – After much delay and controversy, one of the two large family homeless shelters announced for 4th Avenue, the Shirley Chisholm Family Residence at 535 4th Avenue, officially opened its doors last month. The other is expected to open in the fall.

The shelters, located at 535 and 555 4th Avenue, are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide on Homelessness in New York City” initiative to close the cluster sites and commercial hotels across the city that currently house the homeless and replace them with 90 new facilities, we reported last year. The plan aims to place homeless New Yorkers closer to their communities and distribute the facilities more equitably.

The shelters have been a polarizing topic, and last year neighbors’ petition opposing the city’s plans for the facilities gathered 1,900 signatures. The other petition supporting the two facilities got over 3,300 signatures.

The shelters, located across from each other are operated by WIN, which runs shelters and housing units across NYC. 535 4th Avenue (in Community Board 6) provides 148 units for homeless families while 555 4th Avenue (in Community Board 7) will provide 105 units for homeless families as well as 26 units of affordable housing. WIN will also offer services to the residents of the two buildings including case management, housing specialists, security, and social workers

Last year, the NYC Administrative Services released some details from the contracts between the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and Win for the two homeless shelters. The total amount the city will pay WIN for the two facilities over approximately eight and a half years is $261,591,165, we reported. 

The newly opened shelter, called the Shirley Chisholm Family Residence, currently houses 30 families, and more are expected to join in the upcoming months. More than 80 children are living at the shelter right now.

“The newly opened Shirley Chisholm Family Residence in Brooklyn will be providing important assistance and support to more than 140 families, helping women and children who continue to be the forgotten face of New York City’s homelessness crisis,” Christine Quinn, the president and CEO of Win told Bklyner.  “At a time when vulnerable communities are struggling to maintain employment and stay safe from COVID-19, this shelter will deliver services and resources that can help these families break the cycle of homelessness permanently.”

“All of our families are grateful for the warm welcome we have received from the community. As Win prepares to open the nearby Rosa Parks Family Residence later this fall,” Quinn continued, “we look forward to continuing the collaborative partnership with our neighbors.”

“Through our Turning the Tide plan, we remain committed to continuing to open new, high-quality shelters across the five boroughs, including in neighborhoods that don’t have sufficient shelter, giving families who may experience homelessness the opportunity to remain as close as possible to their support networks as they get back on their feet,” Isaac McGinn, the spokesperson for NYC Department of Social Services-Department of Homeless Services (DSS-DHS) told Bklyner.

“To that end, last month, we proudly opened our doors at the new 535 4th Avenue location in Park Slope, which is now providing essential services and supports helping families with children experiencing homelessness stabilize their lives,” McGinn continued. “Working together with service provider Win and the community, through collaborative support and compassion, we’re confident that we will make this the best experience it can be for these families.”

According to McGinn, the 555 4th Avenue shelter is expected to open this fall as WIN is “finalizing all required reviews to ensure the location is ready for occupancy.”

Council Member Brad Lander told us, “We’re looking forward to welcoming these families to our neighborhood. The pandemic has only accelerated the need for emergency shelter for the tens of thousands of New Yorkers in need, and I’m glad that our community will be able to provide a safe place to stay and work together to support the new students joining our school communities.”

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Zainab Iqbal

Zainab is a staff reporter at Bklyner who sometimes writes poetry in her free time || zainab@bklyner.com

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