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City Relocates Families in Two Shelters Cited for Unsafe Conditions

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After years of complaints, the de Blasio adminsitration is looking to remove families with children from two notorious homeless shelters, but the question now is, where are they going to go? NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Josefina Blanco has four children and another one on the way.

"In March, I'm going to have baby," she said.

For the past three years, this family has been living at the Catherine Street homeless shelter, the largest shelter for homeless families with children in the city. They use communal bathrooms.

Residents claim that they come face to face with sexual predators.

"Nobody's safe in here," Blanco said. "Who's going to be safe in here?"

Similar stories are echoed across the East River in Fort Greene at the Auburn Family Shelter.

"I got to sit in here where there's rats going around. You have to be scared if one of them bites you," said Summer Northcutt, who is staying at the Auburn Family Shelter. "You have to be careful, 'cause they have ringworm, bed bugs and lice in that building."

On Friday, the city announced it would be moving families like these out, that these mammoth buildings, where hundreds of the homeless sleep every night, were not suitable for children. Instead, the city would find them another place to live.

"We had to think very quickly about what's right and what's best for children," said Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor.

It's unclear so far where exactly they will be going.

"We can find shelters. We can find shelter units for families with children that will better meet the developmental needs of those children and will improve the experience of the families themselves," Taylor said.

When NY1 checked in with one of those alternatives, another city shelter in Flatlands, residents like 13-year-old Nigeria Ingram say it may not be the best option.

"It's dirty," Ingram said. "You see roaches. You see mice. It's a lot."

NY1 made multiple requests to gain access to these shelters with our cameras to see the conditions ourselves, but City Hall declined, citing privacy reasons.

Advocates say the best options for families with kids would be a housing voucher or giving families priority for public housing.

City Hall says they are working on a more permanent solution. The details are still being worked out.

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