Gravesend residents rally against planned homeless shelter in their community
Hundreds of Gravesend residents came together Sunday to rally against a planned homeless shelter in their neighborhood.
Their fight has ongoing for nearly a year as demonstrators filled the block at the corner of West 13th Street and Kings Highway.
The proposed shelter at 137 Kings Highway would be operated by nonprofit Homelife, according to the Department of Social Services and the Department of Homeless Services. They say it would provide shelter for homeless people in this community, which currently doesn't have the capacity.
Neighbors, led by Assemblyman William Colton, said they feel strongly that they can't have a shelter in their backyard. Community members said the shelter site is nearby to a handful of schools, across the street from a library and in the middle of family homes.
"They've all united in the common demand that this homeless shelter does not help homeless people and it does hurt the neighborhood, and they are not going to permit it to happen," Colton said.
Despite the DSS and the Department of Homeless Services saying there's no other place for homeless people to go in this community, Brooklyn Councilmember Ari Kagan said building a new shelter is far from the answer.
"We need to provide affordable housing, Section 8 vouchers, mental health services, job training, social services," Kagan said.
Colton said shelters like the one proposed perpetuate the homeless problem.
"This concept of homeless shelters is an evil concept. It hurts homeless people, it hurts neighborhoods, it hurts schools, it hurts businesses. The neighborhood must fight against something that is a negative thing," he said.
DSS said that this would be the first shelter in the community and that it would offer services to support 75 families with children.
The shelter is anticipated to open in 2024.