Former City Council Speaker's Organization Hopes to Operate New Homeless Shelter in Coney Island
Last month, the de Blasio adminsitration abandoned a plan to convert a hotel into a homeless shelter in Queens after intense community opposition. Now, the former speaker of the City Council could have a similar battle on her hands, this time in Coney Island. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
It is not easy to open up a homeless shelter in New York, but it's something Christine Quinn is trying to do.
"I know the idea of shelters is scary," she said.
The former speaker of the City Council now heads up a network of homeless shelters called Win. Her organization is up for another contract with the city's Department of Homeless Services to operate two more homeless shelters in Brooklyn.
One in Sheepshead Bay currently operates as a shelter. Her group will renovate it.
The other will be a brand new space in Coney Island. It will house about 180 families.
Her group also plans to build community space.
"We want to erase the idea of 'Who are these people?' They are your neighbors. They are your neighbors that have fallen on hard times," Quinn said.
The proposal comes on the heels of a botched plan to convert a Maspeth, Queens, hotel into a family shelter. It saw intense community opposition. Protesters even went to the homeless commissioner's house.
"People have protested outside of my house," Quinn said. "They may do it again. They may not."
In the Maspeth case, the city eventually abandoned the idea of converting the shelter completely.
In Coney Island, residents are already organizing.
"I thought it was a bad idea. School's right over there," said one resident. "Just because they are children and mothers doesn't mean they can't, they're not incapable of doing bad things, you know?"
The local councilman would not appear on camera for this story, but he said in a statement he had "serious concerns." He added, "I am gravely concerned that the limited social services, economic opportunity, and transportation infrastructure in Coney Island will be insufficient to support an additional high-need population."
He says he has requested a meeting with the mayor, but been rebuffed.
The shelter can be built as of right, which means the City Council does not have to approve it.
Quinn says construction could take as much as 18 months.