New York Shitty Day Ender: Live From The Homeless Shelter Town Hall Meeting

Don’t let the above image fool you: it was a rather lively evening at tonight’s Town Hall Meeting. Follows is the footage I shot along with synopses, annotations and observations. WARNING/CAVEAT/TEASER: Those of you who have a fondness for yelling will not be disappointed.


Part II: Mr. Rosenblatt Gives a Rundown of BRC & The Proposal

  • The proposal (once again) is for a 200 bed assessment center.
  • This facility will be (once again) for single, homeless men.

Part III: Q & A, Continued

  • Questions are raised about the owner of 400 McGuinness Boulevard, Shimmie Horn and this facility serving drug addicts and ex-convicts.
  • Mr. Rosenblatt states that 2/3 – 70% of the people who patronize BRC’s facility have substance and/or mental health issues.
  • If approved, BRC will be leasing 400 McGuinness Boulevard from Mr. Horn.
  • A resident of the three quarter house at 66 Clay Street speaks. (LISTEN TO THIS— Ed. Note)

Part IV: Q & A, Continued

  • Mr. Rosenblatt rebuts JR’s accusations, offers to show anyone in the audience their facilities and tenders his contact information.
  • A member of the audience inquires as to the impart BRC’s shelters have on the surrounding community and voices concerns about 400 McGuinness’s remote location.
  • Mr. Rosenblatt states that the city will be provided transportation and a shuttle van service from the subway will be provided.
  • Mr. Rosenblatt asserts that the communities in which BRC facilities have been placed see improvement and states the Bowery as one such example (Interesting fact: BRC and Mr. Rosenblatt are responsible for the closure of CBGB’s) . This elicits peals of cynical laughter from the audience.
  • A Clay Street resident questions what kind of investment residents of this facility will have in the community and asks about security measures.

Part V: Q & A, Continued

  • Mr. Rosenblatt continues his answer for the previous clip. A question about whether or not entrance to this facility is elective or mandated is raised by a Clay Street resident.
  • Mr. Rosenblatt states that admission is purely voluntary and goes on to explain how the system works: first one goes to an intake center, from there he/she is sent to an assessment center.
  • Mr. Rosenblatt states that residents are entitled to leave whenever they want.
  • Christine Holowacz voices concerns about 400 McGuinness Boulevard’s proximity to public park space (including the Newtown Creek Nature Walk) and brings up the issue of “fair share”. The matter of illegal immigrants is also raised.

Part VI: Q & A, Continued: A Clay Street Resident Speaks

  • Concerns about the proximity of the Greenpoint Hotel, the three quarter house at 66 Clay Street to 400 McGuinness Boulevard is raised.
  • Mr. Rosenblatt states 400 McGuinness will be a “model” program with “model services” for drug treatment. The audience finds this very amusing.
  • A resident named “Mary” voices concerns that our community’s homeless would not be serviced by this shelter.
  • Mr. Rosenblatt states that any Greenpoint homeless interested in their program will not be turned away. He makes mention of wet shelters.

Part VII: Q & A, Continued

  • A member of the audience observes that Mr. Horn paid a rather high $5,000,000 for 400 McGuinness Boulevard and speculates that the Department of Homeless Services advised Mr. Horn that by purchasing this property a RFP for a 200 bed intake center would be approved by them, e,g,; this did not happen in a “vacuum”.
  • A member of the audience begins to speak about Department of Homeless Services.

Part VIII: Q & A, Continued

  • A continuation of the previous speaker. She refutes how transportation will be handled per Mr. Rosenblatt.
  • She brandishes a rather large stack of letters protesting the proposed shelter at 400 McGuinness Boulevard and gives a copy to Mr. Rosenblatt.

And alas, this is when my cameras mercifully ran out of memory. You can view and/or download the letter as mentioned in the above video by clicking here. Follows is a general outline of the conclusion of this meeting along with a few thoughts/observations.

1. The woman speaking in the last video opines/asserts:

  • that shelters tend to be placed “where there is an easy target”.
  • that adequate shelter space is available in New York City. Rather, the issue is that our city’s homeless do not want to go to these shelters.

2. A chorale of women chanting “We don’t want this.” follows.

3. The Representative from the Department of Homeless Services takes the microphone.

  • The question is posed again as to whether or not DHS “brokered” some kind of arrangement with the current owner of 400 McGuinness Boulevard. A satisfactory answer is not given.
  • The issue of alternative sites is raised and the DHS Representative notes that there are eight shelters “in the pipeline”. When asked as to where they are located he gave stated: Bedford Stuyvesant, the South Bronx and Crown Heights. Here’s my question: what do these communities have in common?

4. Ol’ Bo takes the microphone and embarks upon a stream of consciousness screed. He calls the BRC and the Department of Homeless Services representatives (and I quote) “carpetbaggers”.

5. People begin to leave in in significant numbers.

6. Councilman Steve Levin speaks.

  • He opens up by stating he wished he had not had come be back at such a forum.
  • He states that his position has not changed and he is against this shelter.
  • He also notes that Governor Cuomo recently cut housing subsidies which will result in more people matriculating through the shelter system.
  • When asked by an audience member, he states he will speak any any rallies to protest this shelter.

7. The issue of this 200 bed assessment center being located in a M1-2 zone is brought up.

  • The DHS representative states that homeless shelters are allowable under this zoning.
  • He goes on to state that he thinks 400 McGuinness is (and I quote) “a good location” and that not all shelters should be located in residential neighborhoods.

New York Shitty Analysis/food for thought:

  • 400 McGuinness is an excellent location for a homeless shelter provided one is seeking a remote location without easy access to mass transit to warehouse— quite literally— two hundred people. Methinks the word I am looking for here is “containment”.
  • While 400 McGuinness may be zoned as manufacturing classifying the area as a whole as non-residential is a load of shit. This property it located literally across the street from residences.
  • I find the rather fortuitous manner in which a prior RFP was pulled, the property was sold and a new RFP for more or less the same thing to be very, very suspicious. The fact that both Mr. Rosenblatt and the Representative from the Department of Homeless Services dodged the issue does not help matters.
  • If Help USA withdrew its proposal for a 200 bed assessment center due to inadequate funding ($4,000,000) what makes the Bowery Residents Committee think they can do more or less the same thing?
  • A couple of rather interesting articles regarding Mr. Rosenblatt and BRC have been brought to my attention. Apparently they are attempting to place a 238 bed homeless shelter in Chelsea and the locals are none too happy about it.

UPDATE, April 7, 2011: This matter has come to the attention of our friends in Chelsea.

Miss Heather


3 Comments on New York Shitty Day Ender: Live From The Homeless Shelter Town Hall Meeting

  1. KAA on Wed, 6th Apr 2011 11:49 am
  2. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the meeting but thanks for posting those vids.

    Wow, just wow. The former BRC client’s comments are stunning.

    My life is already impacted by the dozen or so chronic alcoholics that congregate on the northwest corner of Manhattan and Greenpoint. I can’t even imagine the effect of having another 200 troubled souls wandering the neighborhood because they have nothing to do or nowhere to go each day.

  3. d on Fri, 8th Apr 2011 3:27 pm
  4. I heard a woman speaking in very loud angry tones at the laundromat yesterday to 2 of my neighbors about this. People are PISSED. I don’t blame them, I don’t want it here either. And that mansion looking house on the corner of Guernsey & Oak apparently harbors sex offenders, I’ve heard this before but it was brought up again at the laundromat.

  5. missheather on Fri, 8th Apr 2011 4:47 pm
  6. The building in questions is a SRO. I’ve actually talked to a guy who lives there. He was really nice. That said, I am of the understanding (yo can look this stuff up) that there is one registered sex offender on Oak Street. Whether or not he resides in this building I do not recall.

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