Homeless issue is much worse this year — Brooklynian

Homeless issue is much worse this year

For those of you living near the Bedford/Pacific corner where the homeless shelter is, I'm sure you noticed that the homeless people have grown this year and the loitering is spreading and has gotten worse.
I know for a fact that they get kicked out every morning very early and can only go back in the evening, so they really have nowhere to go. For the most part, they really keep to their own crew and don't bother anyone or make the neighborhood unsafe.
The issue is that they are now splattered and sleeping laying across the sidewalks and also in the front doorways to neighboring buildings. I've tried to email the mayor's office and have left countless messages with the Department of Health but have not heard back. 
Something needs to be done to help these people, and also clean up the neighborhood. Has anyone else done anything? Was thinking of going to the news with this (for those living in the area you know what i'm talking about). They're not just hanging out on the corner anymore, some look dead laying in the street and sidewalks and the entrance to apartment buildings.


  • Paging @whynot_31...

    Where are these people expected to go during the day?
  • According to the city's shelter's, they're expected to go look for work. Which makes absolutely no sense because they have no money, they're dirty, and not in a good condition or situation to look for work. 

  • edited May 2015
    Usually they are allowed to congregate in large numbers on Herkimer Place:


    I believe some of the residents have now lived in the shelter for years.

    So, it would not surprise me if some set of reisdents (newbies? older guys?) were not welcome on Heckimer Place and instead spent their time nearby.

    If Heckimer Place is ever developed, it isn't clear to me where they will all go during the day.

    ...but it is clear that the community will suddenly become aware of them much more than they are now.
  • You have to literally walk over them to get into your apartment building at this point. It's really bad.
  • edited May 2015
    The city is struggling to create beds for all of the homeless, and is under court mandate to do so.



    It isn't clear to me how the city will get out this mess in light of:
    - the increased demand caused by a reduction in the size of the prison and mental health systems

    - decrease in the supply of beds caused by increasing housing costs.

  • Yeah i don't know either but but something has to happen - firstly that building is ginormous. The shelter. So much could be done right in there. 
  • edited May 2015
    Nothing else can be done in there (the shelter in the large armory at Bedford and Atlantic) until the city finds someplace to put all those guys.

    The city has previously tried to reduce number of people in its system without finding them housing, and lost.


    The city is in a really tight spot.

    The advocates are not going to let the city out of its corner, and both sides of the battle know that supportive housing can not be built fast enough to meet the demand.

  • I get what you're saying, but what i'm saying is that each day that passes, soon you won't be able to walk on the sidewalk because there are people laying down sleeping all over the sidewalks in residential areas. Makes no sense. 
  • Thanks for theses Homeowner. Interesting reads. I guess the meetings and rallies didn't work huh. Last year was not as bad as this year. It's pretty crazy around there.
  • ManoulekaK, if you want to get some news coverage, trying contacting News12 Brooklyn. They are desperate for local coverage and they might come out and do a piece on this. And if it is embarrassing enough for our councilperson laurie cumbo and/or mayor, something might happen (like allowing the men to stay in the shelter during the day, perhaps?)
  • Exactly what I was thinking Crownheightster. Thanks.
  • edited May 2015
    Via court and other processes, advocacy orgs have tried to get the city to stop putting all but the most seriously ill residents outside during the day.

    Thus far, they have been unsuccessful.

    To make the matter somewhat complicated, many of the residents are disabled to the degree that they ARE allowed to remain in the shelter during the day, but don't want to.

    For a variety of reasons, shelters can't lock a resident in, so -again- it is hard to find blame with either the city or the advocates.

    Both the city and the advocates are aware that large numbers of unsightly homeless people decrease home values and tend to cause employed, powerful people to constantly call politicians, commissioners, and the ever-in-need-of-something-to-fill airtime New 12.

    ...the city and advocates would help if they could.

  • Um...OK whynot_31 guess I misunderstood the conversation we were having. Not sure what's up with that jab.
  • FWIW, I don't see any jab.
  • No jab was intended.

    ...I am just explaining the complicating factors that got all of us here.
  • Your last post seemed to imply that certain types of people are bothered for financial or convenience reasons.

    I walked by Herkimer today. Dozens of guys hanging out. That's not what's happening on this side and it's not what I'm talking about.

  • I perceive a good city government as being motivated by increased tax revenue and cost savings.

    In this regard, residents of a city have common interests with their government.

    In the summer months, you will find guys strewn out on the sidewalk throughout the area. A church at approximately Dean and Nostrand distributes meals, which causes the guys to fall out on the way to and from it.

    I do not believe that the shelter has a larger population than it has in the past, but I do believe the length of stay to be longer and severity of disabilities to be much greater.

    The city can no longer place people in unlicense adult homes to same degree it once could:


    This has caused shelters to house the population, in a situation that is arguably less suited to their needs.
  • edited May 2015
    ...which is ok with the advocates, because they see their struggle as eventually benefiting the homeless.
  • An article in today's NYT may make it harder for DHS, HRA and other entities to use 3/4 houses: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/nyregion/three-quarter-housing-a-choice-for-recovering-addicts-or-homelessness.html?referrer=

    For better or worse, this will further inhibit DHS's ability to ever close the Atlantic -Bedford facility.
  • As if on cue, an article in Crain's today confirms that the city has dropped plans to develop this armory (located at Bedford and Atlantic) into another use.

  • It is interesting that one of the underlying reasons cited for keeping the Bedford Atlantic Armory in the public use is as an emergency evacuation center. And that the reason why Bedford Union is more likely to actually become a revitalized space is because of its smaller size and scale. 
  • edited June 2015
    My suspicion is that Eric Adams et al were not able to grab the $14M allotted for Bedford Atlantic and move it to Bedford Union.

    ...that money went back into the city's general fund.
  • Here is an article on Narco Freedom, a nonprofit mentioned several times in the NYT article.

    Much of the problem stems from the state agency charged with overseeing drug facilities: OASAS.

    If the Feds and NYS don't improve OASAS, they are going to have to rely on indictments by the AG to catch such fraud, which is not realistic long term plan.
  • If this bill passes, supportive housing would be curtailed, which would make getting people housed (aka not sleeping in front of people's $2M brownstones) even more difficult:
    NYAPRS Action Alert!

    CALL the NYS ASSEMBLY TODAY and tell them to VOTE NO on Bill A.02553A!!

    This bill would give the NYC City Planning Commission the ability to stop new Supportive Housing residences from being built, and threatens to shut down existing residences that are already serving

    formerly homeless individuals and families!

    CALL the Assembly members listed below NOW and tell them to VOTE NO on A.02553A .

    Tell them this bill:

    · Is discriminatory and violates both the ADA and Fair Housing Acts;

    · Allows a city agency to evict formerly homeless and low-income residents;

    · Jeopardizes all supportive housing construction;

    · Jeopardizes all existing single-site supportive housing that houses over 20,000 people in the NYC area including women and children who are domestic violence survivors and homeless veterans; and

    · Jeopardizes all of the state, federal, city funding (billions!) that has been invested in building and sustaining this housing.

    Tell these assembly members, “There is no recovery without housing. A02553A promotes stigma and discrimination, and threatens my right to recover with dignity in the community!”

    Background on bill: The NYS Senate passed this bill last week and the Assembly version (A02553A) is currently in the Assembly’s Cities Committee. It’s crucial that you send an email and/or call Assembly member Michael Benedetto and the additional following State Assembly sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill and tell them why they should vote no.


    Michael Benedetto (Primary Sponsor/Cities Committee Chair)

    Peter J. Abbate

    Michael Blake

    Edward C. Braunstein

    Alec Brook-Krasny

    Marco Crespo

    Michael G. DenDekker

    Jeffrey Dinowitz

    Mark Gjonaj

    Phillip Goldfeder

    Margaret M. Markey

    Michael Miller

    Walter T. Mosley

    Francisco P. Moya

    Victor M. Pichardo

    Luis R. Sepulveda

    Michael Simanowitz

    Aravella Simotas

    Matthew Titone

  • A super paranoid conspiracy theory just occurred to me. What if all of this work being done to uncover the wrongs of 3/4 housing is to lead to the end of supportive housing, and then the end of the City's obligation to shelter? 
  • As you are likely aware, supportive housing is a different creature than 3/4 housing.

    However, at the present rate of growth (both in terms of the homeless population and associated financial outlay), the city could make an argument that complying with the Callahan decision is too onerous.


    However, in light of the huge amount of wealth pouring into NYC, I think a judge would tell the city they need to find a way to make it work: Find a way to tax the rich to pay for the disabled.

    I also think the populous has grown accustomed to the streets being relatively free of homeless people, and will continue to be willing to bear the financial cost in order to gain the associated benefits.
  • @crownheightster -

    While I do not perceive the threats to shelter as real, I do perceive the threats to supportive housing as real:

  • Unfortunately, supportive housing can be a total joke - it depends on what non-profit organization runs the housing. Housing & Services, Inc., for instance, is completely corrupt. Common Ground is better. It's a complicated issue, and I know about it from both sides: I was a tenant advocate in an S.R.O. for a long time. 

    Not all formerly homeless folks fit the preferred MICA, chronically homeless profile. Some people just hit the skids because of health problems and other situations like having to escape domestic violence, compounded with having lost a job or having gone through a bad divorce. By the way, MICA means mentally ill, chemically abusing (drugs, alcohol). The social workers hired by a dumba** organization like HSI are usually very young and inexperienced, and are often in the process of getting their social work credentials together  - and learning how to work with a much older population of people on the job. They don't have the education or life experience to know much about what to do to effectively help people, and because their salary is based on billing the tenants' Medicaid, and reporting statistical & demographic info to gov't agencies like HUD, they often try to coerce people to use their services in a one-size-fits-all kinda way, instead of targeting people who really truly need help - and the help they offer is so minimal it's practically a joke. 

    The bottom line is that over the past 20-30 years there's been a real push to get the homeless in off the streets - which on one level is a good thing - but on another level, the shelters AND supportive housing just warehouses them. I've seen people in supportive housing continue to drink & drug for years, and nobody makes them accountable for cleaning up and getting a new lease on life; because of the policies of "housing first" (get them in off the street) and "harm reduction" (you can't go after them and penalize them with legal action for illegal activity like dealing drugs) it's hard to see how this is really helpful in the long run - except that nobody should have to live on the street.

    But from another perspective, some of the tenants in supportive housing and shelters are getting away with stuff that just doesn't cut it in housing projects, let alone normal housing. NYCHA won't take people who've been incarcerated, and they kick out the drug dealers and put them on a "Not Wanted" list that they publish.

    Sorry for going on and on. I guess my point is this: there are lots of reasons for homelessness, and I agree with getting people in off the street, but the system is broken because it doesn't address some of the real issues that make PART of that population simply self-destructive, and it's a shame. 

  • There are many motivations for getting people into housing, and many of them -frankly- don't care whether the individual improves their life.

    If a homeless person becomes better, or more self sufficient as a result of being given an apartment that improves the Central Business District, that is nice

    ....but if they don't, that is ok too. In fact, it isn't really relevant to many of the forces behind the funding.
  • Anything to keep them from rifling my trash for God knows what. These past 6 months have been the worst is years. I'm Not upset with the looking but with the disaster they leave behind.
  • Fallout from the NYT's "discovery" of 3/4 housing has begun: The NYC comptroller is earning easy points by stating that HRA and DHS should not longer refer tenants to them.


    Um, would you prefer we send them to your Apt? Maybe the Marriott ?
  • So what are the whynottian predictions for the Homeless Problem for 2015?

    Everyone in my neighborhood says it's worse this year than last.

    I saw that article too - it's impressive that the NYT can do some investigative reporting on corruption that gets investigated, and then write an article about their article. Journalism led to something being done.

    To me it points to a lack of regulation of these 3/4 houses or whatever solution could replace them. Unfortunately, oversight costs money.

  • edited June 2015
    I don't see a powerful enough force to stop the growth.

    So, if you would like a city job, applying to DHS is a good bet. If you meet the qualifications, you are likely to get an interview and I expect it to be at least five years before the agency is targeted for cuts:


    This is in sharp contrast to the job retention prospects I perceive at agencies like the DOE/BOE, ACS, and DOHMH.
  • edited June 2015
    I have an innocent question.  Please don't take it the wrong way...

    Why don't people search for a more affordable places?  My understanding is that there are many who are working, but as a result of the higher cost of living in NYC, end up homeless or close to it.  If that is indeed the case, to the extent they can (e.g., able bodied), are they searching for jobs in lower cost areas?  For example, if someone works in retail and they are not making enough to live here, look for a retail job in a more affordable area which may end up being outside NYC.  Why stick around?  It's not like the weather is attractive (e.g., southern California).

    I understand that this is less than ideal, but in my mind, it is far better than being homeless or close to it.  I understand the individual has connections here, family, etc., but it's not like generations haven't done this before (particularly, when there wasn't this much support, which may be the reason why they took the leap).  Again, moving is less than ideal...  But the alternative is less than ideal as well.

    Maybe we should offer services in these areas; trying to get people back on their feet in sustainable way.  I see how this is not the best political move, but this seems like to be a better favor to the individual.

    And yes, I understand that there will be serious sociological and economic implications to NYC, but I'm asking this from an individual perspective.

    I also understand that there are many who are indeed doing this and moving out of the city, but it just seams reasonable to me for even more people to do so instead of relying on public assistance, assuming they are able bodied.  The current projections paint a horrible picture.

    Looking at my immediate neighborhood, many are moving away from family and friends to Queens, upstate, New Jersey, southern Florida (inland), etc. to get away from the cost of living here; to rent/own a larger apartment/house at a quarter the cost.  Every day, I hear discussions of people moving away, making plans, trying to get a group together, etc.
  • edited June 2015
    The process you describe is occurring among all social classes and demographics.

    While such change is painful, the worst off are unable to pursue a goal that would benefit them.

    The reasons are complex. The hands of the city are quite tied: Even if the city had the best intentions, laws prohibit "us" from housing or moving "them" beyond the city's borders.

    The decision to move is going to have to happen on an individual basis.
  • edited June 2015
    It is hard to start in a new city when you're poor— the labor market may be worse and you don't have connections who know how/where to find a job. And if you're ambitious, the top of the labor market can be much lower. And you move away from family connections, which provide a safety net and childcare and company and such. Beyond that, the safety net has many more holes in other states, particularly in the south. If you can't drive or don't own a car, it's difficult to access most jobs in lower-cost cities. If you're an immigrant, there may not be many in your ethnic community in other cities. Things are only complicated with children.

    That said, on an individual basis, leaving metro NYC is a generally a good choice for a lower-income person, and even for many high income people who don't particularly value what the city has to offer in comparison to, say, affordable homeownership. But it's risky— moving, then not being able to find a job can mean being out a bunch of money from a few months of unemployment plus moving/apartment expenses. Especially since there aren't YMCAs and SROs and other short-term housing options like there used to be.

    In spite of the risk, often over 100,000 people a year make just such a choice, generally moving to places where the legal climate makes it easier to build housing, which can make for a better life for the middle class in spite of lower wages and inferior government services:
    But more immigrants than that move to New York, as they always have.
  • edited July 2015
    Part of what we are seeing stems from the pressure on the criminal justice system to reduce the number of people in custody, especially those who are severly mentally ill.

    Some perceive the shelter system as merely replacing the jails, as evidenced in part by the security that is now provided/required to safely run the "changed" facilities.

  • Raise taxes!!!!!!!

    That is all. But seriously. We do not pay enough in taxes.
  • Raise taxes!!!!!!!

    That is all. But seriously. We do not pay enough in taxes.
  • What we are witnessing is not a lack of funding for homeless services, as much as a failure by gov to plan for the effects of deinstituitionalization and gentrification.


    The increase in demand for shelter was a certainty.

    It is as if the gov imagined that "these people", as well as their legal obligations to house them would disappear.

    ....we are witnessing what happens when gov departments each pursue their own self interests, and we now get to see if and how those in charge address the cumulative effects.
  • What we are witnessing is not a lack of funding for homeless services, as much as a failure by gov to plan for the effects of deinstituitionalization and gentrification.


    The increase in demand for shelter was a certainty.

    It is as if the gov imagined that "these people", as well as their legal obligations to house them would disappear.

    ....we are witnessing what happens when gov departments each pursue their own self interests, and we now get to see if and how those in charge address the cumulative effects.
    The point about gentrification makes me think of the situation happening at 60 Clarkson Avenue, which Tim Thomas has been writing about on his blog over the past week. 
  • edited July 2015
    That is a situation in which who are already "in the shelter system" are being moved around so the landlord can make more money. Using this definition, they aren't BECOMING homeless, they already are.

    The same forces likely contributed to them becoming homeless though.
  • As discussed above, many of the men served by the homeless system cycle in and out of jail.

    The city will soon begin not requiring bail for thousands of people presently held in jail, and this will radically shorten their stay in that part of "the cycle".

    While I consider this to be a positive development, this will increase the amount of time that they are likely to spend in shelters.


    The problem is one of capacity. Ever larger portions of the indigent, misdemeanor population will be served by shelters until they are self sufficient.

    For some, that day takes a really long time to arrive, if it ever arrives.
  • We have talked mostly about single adults. Here are some of the dynamics behind families who end up in the shelter system:

  • edited July 2015
    Back to single adults, the 3/4 houses are not going anywhere. They will get some additional monitoring until the public gets bored, or a class action lawsuit is won.

  • This outreach program to low income tenants in the areas being upzoned has at least two purposes:

    1.  Prevent tenant harassment.


    2.  Prevent homelessness.

    If the shelters still had room to spare, I don't think this program would be as active...
  • edited July 2015
    Here come up to 800 additional people: http://m.nydailynews.com/new-york/major-chain-nyc-three-quarter-houses-financial-ruin-article-1.2304839

    The 3/4 house "system" is very fragile.

    Cue the ominous music:
  • As a result of well intended regulations and lawsuits, this is what the shelter system for families looks like:

  • Reasonably well written update:
  • edited October 2016
    This article from Gothamist should be of interest to @whynot_31City Scraps Maspeth Shelter Plan Citing 'Local Opposition'

    While Maspeth is able to drive out a potential homeless shelter, Crown Heights still has the one on Atlantic Avenue and 60 Clarkson still operates as one in PLG.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Interesting.
  • Maspeth didn't totally get rid of it, the city just rented 30 rooms in the Holiday Inn instead of converting the whole place but what I am wondering is, since these homeless men are supposedly employed, are they paying any of the cost to stay there?
  • edited October 2016
    You're right; the city didn't get rid of it all together, but the fact that the city made this kind of concession is significant.

    I read that the city supposedly expects the working homeless to kick in for a portion of the cost of staying at a homeless shelter. 

  • The article was from July 2009 so I'm wondering if it's still enforced. But just from reading it the sense of entitlement that people have is upsetting in that NYC should pay for them for as long as they're in a shelter so they can hopefully find a place of their own.
    Which of course may or may not happen and since there's no time limit it could be endless.

  • Whether its from a sense of entitlement or not, one thing is clear:  More people continue to come into shelters than are leaving.

  • It should be interesting to see what effect, if any, today's horrible incident has on the city's attempts to comply with "right to shelter"

  • It probably won't change anything. It's a known fact that the city has neither the budget to keep building shelters and housing nor the budget to maintain what they already have. So, they will do the best they can and get sued when necessary. This incident didn't seem like an ongoing problem, just something that happened quickly and yes it's a terrible thing but I don't know that there can be anything done to prevent other mishaps in the future.
  • My estimates are that Coalition For The Homeless will have a "winnable position" that the city is in violation of Right To Shelter by Fall 2017.

    ...it should be interesting to see if they believe a lawsuit will change anything.
  • “There’s just no way that we’re going to be able to create sufficient apartments that are affordable to the population that is in shelter,” she said, before calling on the administration to begin thinking “outside of the box.”


  • 15,000 supportive units in 15 years isn't going to do much to relieve the pressure on shelters.

  • Yee Hah!


    From: (redacted)
    Date: February 3, 2017 at 2:13:15 PM EST
    To: (redacted)

    Subject: Capacity Coordinator Job at NYC Department of Homeless Services

    Hello all,
    Interested in Real Estate? Housing? Zoning? City budgets, contracts or procurement?

    We are expanding the Capacity Planning and Development division at DHS to keep up with the growing demand for shelter.

    It's more of a project management position working with landlords, non-profit providers, real estate brokers and staff throughout the Agency. We are in search of folks who are comfortable being generalists, working under pressure, and who can easily adapt to the changing nature of this industry.

    Please see the attached job description to apply and let me know if you have any questions.


    (Name and title redacted)

    Capacity Planning and Development
    NYC Department of Homeless Services

  • Good luck, de Blasio.
  • No credible candidate has announced they are running against him, so we are likely stuck with a mayor of good intentions (but few accomplishments) for a while.
  • Maybe the land on which the old stables for the Central Park carriage horses were housed can be built on. Oh wait, they're still there. Another campaign promise that didn't happen (thankfully).
  • edited February 2017
    re:"Homeless issue is much worse this year" - I noticed that people are camping out on the ends of the Prince Street and 8th Street stations along the Broadway line now. It's a bit of a puzzling choice considering that the stations are right underneath the sidewalk and they can get drafty.
  • Reports indicate that the state with the worst homelessness issue is Hawaii. It's so bad that the state is giving people permission to let the homeless camp out on their driveways. Last time I was there, about 10 years ago, I saw many people camped out on the beach.
  • edited March 2017
    My parents retired in Hawaii, and I visit every few years.

    Yes, it has the perfect storm for creating homelessness:

    1. Great weather.
    2. High $ cost to leave island if you are there and broke.
    3. High housing costs
    4. Sympathetic Asian tourists who donate $ to beggars.
    5. Very liberal social policies that prevent the police and other agencies from forcing homeless out of the tourist areas.
    6. Major industry of state (tourism) pays very low wages.
    7. Barely functioning drug treatment and mental health programs.
  • Meanwhile, the city and the advocates continue to fight over how to define and operationalize the legal right to shelter.

  • edited March 2017
    This opinion piece by Bob Hennelly at City & State this morning is relevant to this thread: http://nyslant.com/article/opinion/new-yorkers-continue-to-ignore-homelessness-crisis-at-our-own-peril.html 

    It is a bit rambly but deals with the moral responsibility of politicians and citizens to confront this new homelessness epidemic. The way he lays out the statistics is pretty stark:

    In December of 1990, New York City had 20,239 people it sheltered, according to data from the Coalition for the Homeless. Eighteen years later, in 2008 it was up to 36,041. By 2014, at the start of de Blasio administration, the city was accommodating 53,615 people in its shelter system. Currently, that number is over 62,000. What’s most striking in the historical data is the radical shift in the demographics of the homeless from single adults to families and children. Consider that in 1990 the homeless overnight census average included 7,000 children. In the most recent count there were 24,000 children.
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