From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Greenpoint Resident/Landlord Speaks

October 1, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A gentleman named John writes:

As you know there is a proposal in from HELP USA. They want to create what they call a men’s shelter or transitional housing. I have been in the neighborhood for close to 40 years. I can remember when the prostitutes and drug dealers ruled that area. Now it (is) finally clean and we are going to have 200 plus men roaming the area. If you can remember the old Greenpoint hospital. The crime you can’t even imagine ask anyone who lived near or around it. This will no doubt be the same situation. I have tenants in the neighborhood. They threaten to move and I don’t blame them. We need help but not from this organization. Can you please comment and give us some help?

Where do I begin? I have pretty much said my piece on the matter. But to summarize (once again): first and foremost I am bothered by the fact this organization has been asked no less than three times by our local Community Board to meet with the public and discuss their proposed shelter. Each and every time HELP USA has declined. This strikes me as being anything but demonstration of good faith on their part. In addition, it denotes a certain level of arrogance and makes me wonder exactly how responsive this organization is going to be if (or I fear: when) this shelter commences operation and issues (invariably) arise. Given their silence thus far I’d say the outlook isn’t looking very encouraging.

As I have (also) mentioned, a petition is being circulated to demonstrate our community’s opposition to this project. You can download a printable copy of this document by clicking here. After noting there were virtually no Latinos whatsoever at Monday’s hearing (and taking into account that the area where this shelter will be located has a rather substantial Hispanic community) I have taken the liberty of creating a similar such document in Spanish.* You can download this by clicking here.

Lastly, I would advise John (and anyone else who opposes this shelter and/or HELP USA’s intransigence) to contact their local elected officials:

Steve Levin, City Councilman, 33rd District
District Office
410 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 875-5200
FAX: (718) 643-6620

State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol
District Office
619 Lorimer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 383-7474

State Senator Martin Dilan
District Office
786 Knickerbocker Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11207
(718) 573-1726
FAX: (718) 573-2407

And of course there’s your local Community Board (which is collecting the aforementioned petition):

Community Board 1
435 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211
(718) 389-0009
FAX: 718.389.0098

Chances are very good I probably forgot some folks on the above list. I have been up since 5:47 this morning because my bedroom was being inundated with several gallons of rain water (and as a result am more than a little discombobulated at the moment).** For this reason I would be very grateful if anyone reading this tome would point out anything/anyone I might have overlooked via comments or email at: missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. Thanks!

UPDATE, October 5, 2010: Elizabeth writes:

Thank you again for all of the information you have sent readers about the homeless shelter at 400 McGuinness Blvd in Greenpoint.

I called Councilman Levin’s office to voice my concerns about this 200-bed facility. I spoke to Rami Metal who said the councilman has concerns about the shelter as well.

Rami suggested I call Comptroller John Liu’s office to voice my opposition to the new shelter and ask that Liu not give final approval to the shelter. Rami said very few RFPs get nixed but calls from residents might help.

Here is the number folks can call to voice their concerns in case you want to pass this on to your readers:
Comptroller John Liu
Community Action Center
212-669-3916 phone

Next week Councilman Levin is taking a tour of another homeless shelter run by Help USA in Brooklyn. His office will send out information about what the councilman learned about the group and its operations. If readers want to be on the email list, they can email rmetal (at) council (dot) nyc (dot) gov.

Miss Heather

*If someone could help me knock out a petition in Polish I would be very appreciative. You can download a Polish version of this petition by clicking here.

**Humor me: I’m a more than a little cranky.

Notes From The Joint Public Safety/Human Services Committee, Part III: Wrapping It Up

September 29, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

After much toiling I have managed upload a little more footage. Methinks moving forward I will continue adding have added them to this post* for the sake of simplifying an already nightmarish problem (in other words: check back!). Otherwise, I have also decided to use this post to answer a reader question and air my feelings on this subject. Without further ado, here we go!

*NEW September 30, 2010* A Clay Street Resident Speaks

*NEW September 30, 2010* An Old School Greenpointer Speaks— About The Greenpoint Hotel, Mostly

Note: despite his cantankerous nature I rather liked this guy. If for no reason because he was/is responsible for this. When I asked him about it he told me there was  a woman who constantly let her poodles crap on his flowers.

*NEW September 30, 2010* George Diaz Speaks

*NEW September 30, 2010* Jennifer of the Greenpoint Business Association Speaks

Observation: Jennifer has clearly not read my blog. Or bothered to follow— much less attend— Community Board meetings. Had she done any of the previous she’d know the new owner of the “Hotel” has attended a Human Services Subcommittee meeting, wants help from the police and made it pretty well known he wants to hear from local residents. So it goes.

*NEW September 30, 2010* A Rebuttal & Rundown of the proposed Shelter’s P’s & Q’s (including a 10:00 p.m. curfew)

Ann Kansfield of the Greenpoint Reformed Church Speaks

A Representative from the Department of Homeless Services Responds

The Subject Of Property Values Arises

A Representative of Nydia Velazquez Office Speaks

Community Board 1 Member Esteban Duran Speaks

Note: I can’t argue with him, save perhaps adding that while New York City’s track record for addressing homelessness might be subject to debate, this administration’s success in creating homelessness is difficult to dispute!

A Neighbor of the Greenpoint Hotel Speaks & Very Fascinating Diatribe About Bicycle Brake Theft and Cab Vandalism Ensues (among other things)

Observation: This guy was the only one who seemed to faze the DHS Representative, which, as a friend of mine noted:

Must have been the Captain of his High School Debate Team.

The End (Or: My Flipcam runs out of memory but not before Georgie Diaz gets the DHS Representative to assure him that he is wiling to have Mr. Diaz pay him a personal visit lest any issues with this shelter arise)

Observation: The laughter you hear comes from people who know Mr. Diaz.

A Reader Question

As I have previously mentioned I received a question from a reader on Franklin Street resident. She writes:

Thank you for the information on the homeless shelter and the meeting. I could not attend last night. Do you happen to know if the homeless shelter is a transitional place for recently released male inmates? That would concern me. Or is it a homeless shelter for those needing temporary assistance while finding a home? Did the folks at the meeting talk about who will be living there?

First up, I am not an expert of such matters— and Monday’s meeting was not exactly illuminating. Here’s what we were told: the proposed shelter is for homeless single men. Aside from a passing mention of some work-fare kind of arrangement, a 10:00 p.m. curfew and providing security nothing else was really said. Would I rule out that there will be ex-convicts in this group? Absolutely not.

An Op-Ed From Yours Truly

In closing and despite the fact I have already published the following (albeit via comments), my thoughts on the matter, I want to feature to feature it in a proper blog post— and add a few more observations. Here we go.

Having given the evening some thought (and I needed some time to think about this because quite frankly I was pretty overwhelmed):

1. The presentation by DHS really wasn’t a presentation at all. If I may offer some constructive criticism it would have been that DHS give an actual presentation showing people how this process works and then lead into a discussion about the proposed shelter for 400 McGuinness. This would have put everyone on the same page and eliminated a lot of duplicate questions. What’s more, when I have someone tell me (as this rep did) that studies have shown that a homeless shelter will not (or will positively) effect property values (to cite an example) I am more than a little skeptical. Show me the study. They said this shelter will help our local homeless problem. How? Once again: show me.
2. Where the hell is HELP USA? They have been invited to speak and have declined. Repeatedly. This would indicate to me that they either do not care about the people whose lives will be impacted by this shelter— or that they have something to hide. Sorry, but merely taking our City Councilman on a tour of another shelter (and a women’s shelter at that) is not good enough.
3. If my memory serves me correctly the reason HELP USA declined to speak is because this RFP is under consideration. Yet, the reason we had the hearing is so people could tender their two cents/concerns about it. How, may I ask, are people able to do that if they do not know the specifics of said proposed shelter? This strikes me as not only being ludicrous, but it will only make people feel more powerless/in the dark (and in the clarity of hindsight I think this was the root of a lot of the anger we saw that night) and facilitate even more speculation.

The deal is this (and I am going to be brutally honest): I am not happy about 200 homeless men residing a few blocks from my home. I cannot think of many people who would embrace this prospect. While I am very willing to understand some of the people this shelter would serve are probably good people who need a leg up, the fact is others are on (as one attendee put it) on “the fringe of society” for a reason. I am talking about people who have serious problems— and may be prone to violence. I am hardly the kind of person who sees a bogeyman around every corner. I am simply crunching the numbers— and the fact is with 200 men the odds are you are going to have some bad apples. Which brings me to the subject of location…

Contrary to what the Human Services chair said, this shelter would not be in the middle of a residential community. Its location (in my opinion) is more problematic: it is located in a rather secluded area which straddles both an industrial and residential corridor. As crazy as it may sound, I would feel more comfortable if this proposed shelter were to be located somewhere with more foot traffic/eyes on the street. There are a lot of places someone with nefarious purposes can (for wont of a better term) “hide” in this area. In addition (and I write this as someone who has lived on Clay Street) I too have concerns about its proximity to the Hotel. While I probably take a much more moderate position on this establishment (by virtue of the fact in the early 2000’s it was much worse and I know someone who lives there. Not everyone who lives there is bad.) the fact is there are still problematic tenants there. I live and work close to this hotel. I know who these men are— if not by name— and last weekend I saw one such resident harangue a senior citizen, quite menacingly, on the street. This gentleman was clearly unbalanced. I guess what I am trying to say is I have to wonder exactly how the population of this proposed shelter is going to mix with people such as this gentleman. And mix they will. I see the potential for serious trouble in this respect and I do not find the fact we were given no details whatsoever about what security measures will be put in place at this shelter very reassuring.

I could go on and on. But I keep coming back to one thing: where’s HELP USA? They alone are in the position to inform our community as to the shelter they have proposed and when asked to do so— repeatedly, I would like to add— they have declined. In other words, my biggest issues are a lack of transparency and a seeming unwillingness to engage the members of the community regarding a project that will undoubtedly impact their quality of life. How can I honestly believe (as was reiterated over and over Monday night) this shelter is going to help serve the local homeless population here if they very entity behind said shelter won’t have a dialogue with the very community where said homeless people are located? The answer is I can’t.

After the writing the previous I decided to go for a walk. It was a particularly atrocious derelict construction site that it hit me:

Greenpoint was promised a number of things during the now infamous rezone. Five years later a number— if not most— of these things have yet to happen. Do we have any new park space? For all intents and purposes: NO. Affordable housing? None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. But we do have plenty of Bloomblight and “luxury apartments”! And now we face the prospect of a homeless shelter. Am I the only person who finds this wretchedly comical?

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that this makes me very, VERY angry. Not only should the city keep its promises before it demands anything else from this community, but by effectively enabling HELP USA to (seemingly) evade any semblance of community process/transparency/feedback it is a big slap in the face to the very people— many of whom were present Monday night, I will add— who made this community a place where people like me (and you) want to live in the first place. They— we— deserve better than this.

Miss Heather

*Save one. That being what the Chair of Community Board 1, Christopher Olechowski, has to say. You can find that one here. This way all the videos will be in some semblance of chronological order.

P.S.: Those of you who object to this proposed shelter will probably be interested to know there is a petition in the works. As I understand it, it has just shy of 500 signatures to date and is being collected by Community Board 1. To download a printable version of this petition (for distribution and signing) click here.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Last Night’s Meeting

September 28, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

As I am (still) wrangling with YouTube and generally pulling my hair out I received a very thoughtful email from a reader who attended last night’s meeting. We’ll call him “T”. He writes:

I found this meeting (my first CB1 meeting) both interesting and depressing.  The amount of misdirected or premature anger based on pure conjecture, misunderstanding, class prejudice, assumption and fear was shocking.  Maybe because I haven’t been intimately involved with the debate up to this point.  In any event, I drew a couple of conclusions:  1) it’s mostly the craphole that is the Greenpoint Hotel and the very legitimate issue of the indigent Polish alcoholic population that generates the fear and the frustration and people are projecting that onto this process; and, 2) that first point is the fault of the dbags at HELP USA who refuse to actually come down and help alleviate these fears or at least be part of the process.  So, seems to me HELP USA is the culprit in most of this.  At least DHS has the courage to come down and explain the process, regardless of whether the community is calm enough to actually listen to it and understand it.  Has there been a history here of these hearings happening and then DHS just completely ignoring the feelings and opinions of the community or is the assumption that DHS doesn’t care and has already approved this thing (an opinion which the dude in front of me seemed to be fastened on) based on nothing but the usual boogeymen?  Because I’m willing to give DHS the benefit of the doubt on this based on the actual words coming out of the rep’s mouth but if others know something based on FACT that I don’t know, I’d love to hear it.

First off, I am VERY happy I motivated T to attend this meeting. If there is one thing I would like this site to do (other than amuse and entertain) it is to get my readership more involved with what’s going on in this— our— community. As for his points, they’re well founded. But for the time being I would like to focus on this question:

Has there been a history here of these hearings happening and then DHS just completely ignoring the feelings and opinions of the community or is the assumption that DHS doesn’t care and has already approved this thing (an opinion which the dude in front of me seemed to be fastened on) based on nothing but the usual boogeymen?  Because I’m willing to give DHS the benefit of the doubt on this based on the actual words coming out of the rep’s mouth but if others know something based on FACT that I don’t know, I’d love to hear it.

I suspect many an old(er) timer will back me up when I write that Greenpoint has a long history of being a “dumping ground” for things other people do not want in their backyard. The Public Safety Chair himself, Mr. Kalita, made light of this. He— along with Chairman Olechowski— also made it clear that the Community Board only has an advisory opinion when it comes to this and numerous other neighborhood concerns. Liquor licenses are one such example and, yes, the Community Board— which is ostensibly the voice of the community— has been overruled. This has fostered a certain level of cynicism— if not outright rage— in the community they try serve. Now factor in the shenanigans at the Greenpoint Hotel and the fact that HELP USA seems to be unwilling to meet the very public to whom they will be held accountable if (or when) this shelter comes to pass and you get the idea: a lot of angry Greenpointers. Methinks this is largely what T saw last night. For the time being I will leave my opinions/observations at that. However, I would really like it if someone (else) would step up to the plate and address T’s questions/concerns. Anyone?

Miss Heather

New York Shitty Day Ender: Notes From The Joint Public Safety/Human Services Meeting, Part I

It has been a long (but not necessarily bad) day for yours truly. Nonetheless I attended this evening’s meeting and will now endeavor to upload footage. I was unable to get everything on film but what I did get should reflect the concerns and attitude of the community at large. I will be posting these videos as they are successfully uploaded— so stay tuned!

Oh yeah, Help USA declined to show. Here’s a time line thoughtfully provided by our local Community Board which outlines the numerous opportunities this organization has been offered to inform us, the public, about their proposed homeless shelter for 400 McGuinness Boulevard (AKA: 146 Clay Street).


A Representative from the Department Of Homeless Services Speaks

In the meantime I will leave you with the following statistics:

  • Number of times the word “bullshit” was used: 2
  • Number of times the word “diarrhea” was used: 1

And some general observations/gossip:

  • The owner of an adjoining property, 394 McGuinness Boulevard, stated that his tenants have made it clear they will move out if this homeless shelter is approved.
  • There was much bemoaning about the lack of “open bar”. As one old timer put it: “At least they can buy you a drink when they’re screwing you”.
  • I had two people tell me that the city owns 400 McGuinness. Methinks this (if it is in fact true) it is due to a tax lien. I see nothing whatsoever to suggest such action has been taken. What’s more, I have no reason to believe the city would resort to such drastic measures: I’ve seen much worse here and they have done nothing. Nonetheless, the representative from the Department of Homeless Services has gone on to the record as stating he will provide the name and contact information of the owner to the Community Board.
  • Many questions (and overall rancor) involved the Greenpoint Hotel. Chairman Gangone stated he had no knowledge of what designs the new owner of this establishment had in regards to this property. Speaking as someone who attended said Human Services meeting (and took notes) I’d like to refresh his— and everyone’s memory.*

Miss Heather

*Pay special attention to “TENANTS (Future)” and “THE FUTURE OF 1109-1113 MANHATTAN AVENUE”.

REMINDER: 400 McGuinness Boulevard

September 26, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Although I have posted this before I am going to do so again: Monday, September 27 at 6:30 p.m. a hearing will be conducted at our very own Polish National Home regarding the proposed 200 bed homeless male intake center proposed for 400 McGuinness Boulevard (as seen above). Regardless of what your position on this decidedly controversial project may be, dear readers, I admonish each and every one of you to attend this meeting.

Hearing Regarding The Proposed Homeless Shelter at 400 McGuinness Boulevard
September 27, 2010 starting at 6:30 P.M. 6:00 p.m.
Polish National Home
216 Driggs Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11222

Miss Heather

Mark Your Calendars: September 27, 2010

September 15, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Tonight’s CB1 meeting was not terribly lively— but I did learn something that will undoubtedly be of interest to Greenpointers be they for or against the proposed homeless shelter slated for 400 McGuinness Boulevard: Monday, September 27 at 6:30 p.m. a hearing will be conducted at our very own Polish National Home. This will be presided over by the Public Safety Committee Chair (and all around bad ass): Mieszko Kalita. I admonish each and every Greenpointer reading this to make it a point to attend and have your say!

Hearing Regarding The Proposed Homeless Shelter at 400 McGuinness Boulevard
September 27, 2010 starting at 6:30 P.M.
Polish National Home
216 Driggs Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11222

Miss Heather

From The New York Shitty Inbox: 400 McGuinness Boulevard

September 6, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Laura (who took the above photographs) writes:

I’d say that Greenpointers are against the shelter.


Miss Heather

Coming To Greenpoint: A Bike Shop & A Homeless Shelter?

August 11, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

If the folks fixing up 1078 Manhattan Avenue (the former digs of Greenpoint Furniture) are to be believed this former will be the case! They did not divulge the name of their establishment, however, they said they were shooting for a September 1 opening date. So there have you!

New Bike Shop
Opening Date: September 1, 2010
1078 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11222

And closing on a decidedly different note it has been brought to my attention that 400 McGuinness Boulevard may very well become a homeless shelter. Here’s the forwarded email I received from a tipster. It comes from the Manager of Community Board 1:

Not only is this a hop-skip from our soon-to-be new bike shop, but this “assessment center”, if green-lighted, will be a turd’s toss from the Newtown Creek Nature Walk. Fascinating.

Miss Heather

P.S.: If what I saw walking by today is any indication, it would also appear the Garden Spot Cafe may be ready to open its doors. Soon.

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