“Being homeless is not something you want to be,” said one mother of two who didn’t want to be identified for this story.
She and family are living in a homeless shelter currently.
“As a mom, it’s hard ‘cause you don’t want your children to see you struggle and you have to put on a brave face,” the woman said.
It took her four months to get into the shelter on East New York Avenue in Crown Heights. But now the building's owner says he may have to evict all the homeless families sheltered here and rent the apartments at market rate because of a dispute with the city.
“It’s becoming more and more difficult for my client to afford the mortgage,” said Joseph Claro, an attorney for the building owner. “They haven’t received any money from the city since approximately May of this year.”
BEDCO, the non-profit Bushwick Economic Development Corporation, which operates the shelter, says the city owes it $500,000 in back payments.
BEDCO says the city has been trying to phase it out of as shelter provider after two toddlers died in a radiator explosion at a BEDCO shelter in the Bronx three years ago. BEDCO was not at fault, but at the time it had been cited for nearly 2,300 housing code violations at its housing sites.
The city acknowledges that it hasn't paid BEDCO since May, but says that's because the non-profit hasn't filed necessary paperwork.
“There is a dispute between the city and BEDCO and yet it’s my client and the shelter residents who are caught in the middle,” said Claro. “The shelter residents are facing eviction.”
Although the city says under no circumstances would it allow the clients of the East New York Avenue shelter to be forced into the streets, some who call the shelter home are worried.
“That would be very bad,” said the woman NY1 met at the shelter. “I not only have me and my husband, I have two children to think about. One of them is a new born.”
The city would then have to find new apartments for them if it closes the shelter. This comes at a time when the city already has a near record number of homeless people.