‘It’s going to be war’: Hundreds of furious Brooklyn residents take to the streets to protest planned homeless shelter for 150 men

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Written By Maya Cantina

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  • The proposed Bensonhurst shelter will provide services like case management, housing placement, and partnerships that will work to link the men with jobs
  • Locals have expressed unease over the site’s proximity to several schools 
  • City officials have shot back that the neighborhood is one of few in the five boroughs without a shelter, and that residents have had ample notice

Thousands of protesters descended on a Brooklyn neighborhood Saturday to protest a planned homeless shelter that will house only men.

The shelter, proposed by the city, will be a 32-room hotel with a community facility, and will provide services like case management, housing placement, and community partnerships that will work to provide the men with jobs.

The planned site is located in heavily residential Bensonhurst, where locals have expressed unease over the site’s proximity to several schools.

City officials have shot back that the neighborhood is one of few in the five boroughs without a shelter, and that residents have had ample notice, being notified back in November.

Unswayed, residents, business owners, and politicians in the mostly Asian neighborhood came together Saturday to say no to the city’s plans, as Mayor Eric Adams’ administration works to address the city’s rapidly rising homeless rate.

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Thousands of protesters descended on the streets of Bensonhurst Saturday to protest a planned homeless shelter that will house only single men

Thousands in the mostly Asian neighborhood came together Saturday to say no to the city's plans, as Mayor Eric Adams' administration works to address the city's rising homeless rate. the city's shelter system skyrocketed more than 50 percent over the past year

Thousands in the mostly Asian neighborhood came together Saturday to say no to the city’s plans, as Mayor Eric Adams’ administration works to address the city’s rising homeless rate. the city’s shelter system skyrocketed more than 50 percent over the past year

‘We’re concerned that the homeless will affect the safety of kids,’ local father Michael Huang told Fox 5 from the hectic procession of the proposed site, which will house the mentally ill.

‘It’s just going to cause more problems than we already have,’ added longtime resident Marie Brullo.

‘It’s going to increase crime.’

She, like others, forecasted unrest once the shelter comes to fruition, citing how the number of homeless in the city’s shelter system skyrocketed more than 50 percent over the past year – driven by an unrelenting surge of migrants.

‘People are going to be fighting against them,’ she said, citing how she’s lived in the neighborhood since 1966.

‘It’s going to be a war here.’

Others – including Democratic Assembly Member William Colton and City Council Member Susan Zhuang – said more of the same, promising more fighting before the facility is finished.

‘This is the wrong place and the wrong policy homeless shelters don’t help homeless people, and we are not going to be silent about it,’ said Assemblyman Colton. 

‘We can do the right thing for them, affordable housing, great, use the money,’ added another protester.

‘But don’t tell us taxpayers with our money what to do with it.’

'We're concerned that the homeless will affect the safety of kids,' local father Michael Huang told Fox 5 from the hectic procession about the proposed site, which will house the mentally ill

‘We’re concerned that the homeless will affect the safety of kids,’ local father Michael Huang told Fox 5 from the hectic procession about the proposed site, which will house the mentally ill

'It's just going to cause more problems than we already have,' another resident in the predominantly Asian, residential neighborhood said. 'It's going to increase crime'

‘It’s just going to cause more problems than we already have,’ another resident in the predominantly Asian, residential neighborhood said. ‘It’s going to increase crime’

Locals have expressed unease over the planned site's proximity to several schools. The building on 25th Avenue and 86th Street that will house the men is seen here

Locals have expressed unease over the planned site’s proximity to several schools. The building on 25th Avenue and 86th Street that will house the men is seen here

City officials have shot back that the neighborhood is one of few in the five boroughs without a shelter, and that residents have had ample notice, being notified about it back in November

City officials have shot back that the neighborhood is one of few in the five boroughs without a shelter, and that residents have had ample notice, being notified about it back in November

Unswayed, hundreds of residents, business owners, and politicians in the mostly Asian neighborhood came together Saturday to make their stance about the planned facility known

Unswayed, hundreds of residents, business owners, and politicians in the mostly Asian neighborhood came together Saturday to make their stance about the planned facility known

Among them Democratic Assembly Member William Colton (center) and City Council Member Susan Zhuang (right), who promised more fighting before the facility is finished

Among them Democratic Assembly Member William Colton (center) and City Council Member Susan Zhuang (right), who promised more fighting before the facility is finished

'We can do the right thing for them, affordable housing, great, use the money,' added another resident. 'But don't tell us taxpayers with our money what to do with it'

‘We can do the right thing for them, affordable housing, great, use the money,’ added another resident. ‘But don’t tell us taxpayers with our money what to do with it’

'This is the wrong place and the wrong policy homeless shelters don't help homeless people, and we are not going to be silent about it,' the assemblyman said, as he urged city officials to reconsider the already laid plans

‘This is the wrong place and the wrong policy homeless shelters don’t help homeless people, and we are not going to be silent about it,’ the assemblyman said, as he urged city officials to reconsider the already laid plans

A spokesperson for the Department of Social, meanwhile, said: ‘This will be the first shelter in this community district offering New Yorkers experiencing homelessness the critical opportunity to receive quality care as they get back on their feet. 

‘As part of our equitable shelter siting approach, we are ensuring that every community has the safety net resources to help their vulnerable neighbors.’

Officials reiterated: ‘[T]his community district has no shelters so we look forward to bringing this vital resource to the community. 

‘Working together with our not-for-profit provider-partner Project Renewal, we will be providing robust wraparound supports as dedicated staff work closely with shelter residents to help them stabilize their lives and move into permanent housing.’

The retaliatory statement concluded: ‘As we have always done, we will continue to maintain open lines of communication with the community and remain committed to ongoing engagement as we work collaboratively to support our neighbors in need.’

Project Renewal is a New York-based nonprofit that helps homeless and low-income men and women who often have a drug addiction or mental illness – two traits officials have confirmed some of the shelter’s future inhabitants will have.

A spokesperson for the Department of Social, meanwhile, said: 'This will be the first shelter in this community district offering New Yorkers experiencing homelessness the critical opportunity to receive quality care as they get back on their feet'

A spokesperson for the Department of Social, meanwhile, said: ‘This will be the first shelter in this community district offering New Yorkers experiencing homelessness the critical opportunity to receive quality care as they get back on their feet’

'As part of our equitable shelter siting approach,' officials added, 'we are ensuring that every community has the safety net resources to help their vulnerable neighbors'

‘As part of our equitable shelter siting approach,’ officials added, ‘we are ensuring that every community has the safety net resources to help their vulnerable neighbors’

Sighs seen at the Saturday expressed ire over the planned site's vicinity to multiple local schools and playgrounds, in an area known for its immigrant population and working-class demographic

Sighs seen at the Saturday expressed ire over the planned site’s vicinity to multiple local schools and playgrounds, in an area known for its immigrant population and working-class demographic

In turn, attendees Saturday toted signs urging Adams’ administration to reconsider, with one telling civic staffers: ‘We need jobs! Not Shelters!’

Others pointed to the planned site’s vicinity to multiple local schools and playgrounds, in an area known for its immigrant population and working-class demographic.

‘No shelters near playgrounds or schools’, one sign read.

‘Community’s safety first!’ insisted another. ‘No homeless shelter.’

Some addressed former NYPD Captain Adams directly, promising: ‘Kick shelters out – or we’ll vote you out.’

Meanwhile, it’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since the first-term mayor launched his controversial homeless outreach effort, as hundreds of the thousands of New Yorkers living on city streets are believed to have untreated mental illness.

In most cases, officials have classified most of these maladies as ‘severe’, with several fitting that criteria committing violent crimes in the past year.

A simultaneous stream of migrants has hampered the progressive’s ongoing attempt, which has seen several facilities installed in residential neighborhoods like Manhattan’s Upper West Side in recent months.

The empty facility at 2501-2511 86th Street in Brooklyn is seen here

The empty facility at 2501-2511 86th Street in Brooklyn is seen here

It comes a year-and-a-half after the first-term mayor launched a controversial homeless outreach effort, as hundreds of the thousands of New Yorkers living on the streets are said to have untreated mental illness

It comes a year-and-a-half after the first-term mayor launched a controversial homeless outreach effort, as hundreds of the thousands of New Yorkers living on the streets are said to have untreated mental illness

This, in turn, has spurred swift public outcry, with residents irate over several the installations proximity to where children play and congregate.

Project Renewal has played a large role in these plans – as an average of 83,985 people take advantage of the city’s more than 365 shelters each day, a preliminary management report released by Adam’s office in January revealed.

That’s up compared to the 54,738 individuals living in these facilities – which includes 47 repurposed hotels – that time in 2022. 

Those numbers represent an uptick of at least 53 percent – a number that officials earlier this year blamed on Joe Biden and the rules his administration has place at the border and beyond.

‘The flow of asylum seekers to New York City drove a 147 percent increase in entries to shelter for families with children and a 185 percent increase in entries to shelter for adult families,’ the report said.

The report noted the number of single adults entering the shelters run or overseen by the DHS plummeted by 13 percent compared to a year ago.

Eric AdamsHomelessness

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