15 thoughts on “After the Shouting, Do Shelters and Supportive Housing Harm Neighborhoods?

  1. I’d like to say I didn’t have any “expectations” when a huge, red-hued supportive housing building went up in my Fort Greene neighborhood (and what architect, with any experience in health care facilities erects a red facade for a structure to house people coming out of stressful and chemical-dependant lifestyles?). However, I also didn’t expect the police or fire department or EMTs to appear on my block AT LEAST once a week. These calls aren’t logged and counted? I’m sure they are, and us homeowners on the block will suffer declining property values and higher taxes and insurance premiums. (And then we found out the building was opened up to the affordable housing lottery program, because it was only 40% full of clients. So…now there’s folks paying about $800 a month, and of course, with that rent, they all have cars. Now there’s a struggle for safe parking in the area. And the building’s cameras don’t work — found this out the hard way.) Most people I encounter on the block associated with the building are perfectly pleasant, but their transition is at the expense of their neighbors, especially when our structures were denied historical status similar to those just a stone’s throw away by the BQE. Our townhouse row has now been lumped into a block that gives no reverence to the existing architectural style or the existing community and will be lost among the rush to build and rent supportive and/or affordable housing, concepts which are seemingly interchangeable when convenient.

    • Color of the building aside, you have every right to be angry. Of course I don’t know your particular politics but Fort Greene overwhelmingly voted for deBlasio. So how’s that ‘progressive politics’ working out for you 24/7? deBlasio could care less about you or your home values. You are the ‘enemy’. You worked hard and bought a home. But those homeless residents are more important than you. The are victims.

      Calls to 311 and 911 are logged and counted. Your councilmember should be able to get that information. Beyond that I think you are stuck with that facility, and it will only get worse as time goes on. Secure you home and car as best you can. Once the summer comes it will be open season on you and your neighbors. Cops won’t do much because they might be brought up on ‘brutality’ charges.

      Funny things is that deBlasio is placing these facilities in neighborhoods that voted for him. No facilities in eastern Queens or on the south/east shores of SI because he knows the opposition there will be stronger than he used to.

      • Thanks for the suggestion to contact my councilmember; I am very interested in tracking the emergency calls and escalations in my property taxes and insurance. While it’s convenient to point fingers at the current administration, I have to say it was Bloomberg that shook hands and put the celebratory shovel-to-earth for the red eyesore on my block. He and the ancient zoning codes helped the steamrolling of neighborhoods (that deBlasio is allowing to continue), especially in Brooklyn. That, with the collective economy, make it both difficult to secure and then maintain and keep a home in NYC, and NONE of the pols, regardless of party, seem to care.

        • In most neighborhoods renters outnumber homeowners by a significant margin. But homeowners are more reliable voters and elected officials listen to civic associations and block associations. The NYC zoning codes can be bizarre and complex. I think that shelters can only be built in neighborhoods currently zoned for apartment buildings (R6 and above?). I’m zoned R3X, detached one/two family only.

  2. Shelter-opposing organizing is unfortunately rarely matched by organizing of people who are neutral or supportive, but that doesn’t mean it represents the community’s opinions. Neighborhood In The Nineties is loud as hell but I don’t know many people who agree with them about Freedom House.

    My kids go to one of the schools that NITN says it’s concerned about being close to the shelter. The administration there is interested in meeting the needs of kids living in the shelter, not freaked out — because that’s what schools are for. As far as security issues, a man staying in the shelter yelled harassing things at some kids in the school playground, but it doesn’t take a shelter to make that guy show up.

    The idea that permanent residents of a block are all safe to be around, and that shelter residents add some new danger never before seen there, is ridiculous. This is New York City, people!

    There are plenty of things wrong with Freedom House and many other shelters, but they have more to do with treating residents like recalcitrant cattle than with being in our neighborhoods.

    • Keep rationalizing about how that shelter won’t eventually get worse and worse. Many shelter residents are drug users and ex-convicts. But gee whiz, that’s nothing to worry about because how dare NYC residents demand to live on safe blocks.

    • I’m not sure where you live but it sounds like you’ve got your head in the sand. I’ve lived on 94th and West End for the last 15 years and have a seen a dramatic decrease in the quality of life in this neighborhood since these shelters have been installed. Disturbances have decreased proportionally since the Freedom House were forced to reduce their number from 400 to 200. But that just shows how number of shelter residents directly correlate with problems in the neighborhood. The community and the population in the shelters both deserve better. Also, doesn’t it matter to you that the city is paying $3700 for a 8 by 10 room that doesn’t have adequate security for the residents? We’re all being forced to deal with the city’s ineptitude about how to care for these populations. Certainly they shouldn’t be forced to live in close quarter with other SRO residents who feel as though their lives are being negatively affected too. The whole thing is a mess. Would you change your tune if a child or someone you know is accosted by someone in these shelters?
      I hope it doesn’t come to that. I support NITN 100%

      • I wholeheartedly agree that Freedom House is a badly run shelter — that’s an argument for a better management group, not about whether NIMBYism is primarily rational or primarily racist and anti-poor.

        The claim that there are drug offenders etc living in shelters is a good example of that. We already know that low income people and non white people are disproportionately targeted by policing – it doesn’t mean that the wealthier folks around the shelter don’t have many ofthe same issues, or versions of them. Anyone with neighbors can attest that there are plenty of unstable and threatening people in fancy digs. Focusing on shelter residents as if they represent a threat that wouldn’t be there without them is silly at best.

        Beyond that, shelter is one of the most critical resources to stem the problems the NIMBYists say they’re afraid of. So neighborhood advocates would do better to advocate for improving the shelter instead of moaning about it.

        Of course no one who lives here is unconcerned with it — but there are useful responses and there are destructive ones. Unfortunately the latter are easier and more popular.

  3. Sounds a lot like the LULU (Locally Unwanted Land Use) reaction to community residences for people with disabilities. With over 50 studies on their impact on property values and neighborhood safety, nobody will fund more studies because the results have been so conclusive: as long as they aren’t clustered together on a block or neighborhood, they do not hurt property values or reduce neighborhood safety. Unfortunately it’s hard to get laypeople to accept that — they always object to the age of the studies. But like studies as to whether smoking causes cancer, the results are just too darn consistent to warrant more studies. With shelters and supportive housing, I’d like to see some studies that examine whether a concentration of them affect property values as well as whether they create a de facto social service district. Funding for studies is needed.

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