Judge Continues to Block Opening of Homeless Shelter in Brooklyn

The mayor wants to open 90 new homeless shelters across the city as part of an effort to revamp the city's shelter system. A judge continued to block the opening of one of those shelters in Brooklyn Wednesday.

Almost a month ago, the de Blasio administration said it was ready to open up a shelter on Bergen Street in Crown Heights. It would house more than 100 homeless men over the age of 62. 

Since then, the only place the discussion has gone is Brooklyn Supreme Court. On Wednesday, a state judge continued to block the shelter from opening.

Residents have sued the city, arguing Crown Heights already has its fair share of shelters.

The city wants to open this facility as one of 90 new homeless shelters in the next five years. The mayor wants to revamp the system to try to keep the homeless near the communities they come from. 

It's not a winning argument in a crowded courthouse. 

"I think adding more beds is not the solution to this illness in our neighborhoods," said Jennifer Catto of the Dean Street Block Association. "You don't solve the problem by adding more shelter beds."

The judge is encouraging the residents and the city to reach a compromise. Lawyers went behind closed doors to begin to hash it out. 

"The judge wants to be able to resolve this as quickly as she can," said Jacqueline McMickens, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

"Perhaps there is something that can be worked out. We don't know yet. So the litigation is held in abeyance until some proposals are exchanged," said Phillip Solomon, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

It's unclear if either side will back down. 

"The one proposal we would want is for there to be no shelter at all," said Fior Ortiz-Joyner of the Rebirth of Bergen Street Block Association. "I don't know what they could come up with that would satisfy us at this time."

The same goes for the city. In a statement, a Department of Homeless Services spokesman said, "We remain committed to opening this site so that over 100 seniors can be sheltered closer to the community they called home and to working with community members to address concerns so that our clients receive a warm welcome." 

The parties will continue to negotiate over the next week or so in the hopes of reaching a compromise. If not, they will be back in court at the end of the month. 

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