Bushwick Neighbors Alarmed at Excessive $33M Price Tag for Men’s Shelter

NYC Taxpayers To Pay Nearly $7K Per Bed/Month to House 80 Men - The Same Cost as Luxury Penthouse With a Pool & City Views!

Group Calls on City Comptroller Scott Stringer to Review Taxpayer Expenditures on Bushwick Shelter

(Bushwick, Brooklyn - May 22, 2019)  Today's report that New York City spending on homeless shelters has doubled since 2014 to record highs has prompted a Bushwick neighborhood advocacy group to on New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer to immediately review the $33M price tag the city is paying a non-profit to operate an 80 bed men’s shelter in Bushwick at 97 Wyckoff Ave.    

Stringer today placed the city's Department of Homeless Services on "watch list" after finding the city has doubled expenditures on the homeless to $3.2B since 2014. 

The price of the shelter breaks down to the City paying $6875 per bed - per month - to house men transitioning out of homelessness. 

"We call on the city comptroller to inspect the exorbitant amount that is being paid for this shelter in a neighborhood with its fair share of shelters," said Bushwick Neighbors United. 

 "We need transparency into where this money is going - is it going to enrich the landlord, Acuity Capital Partners, or to executives of the non-profit Core Services?   If it’s truly intended to help the homeless, which we all agree need it, we need to know how it will help end the cycle of homelessness for these men.”

The group says Bushwick already has more than its fair share of shelters - this will be the 12th shelter in Bushwick.   Floorplans reveal preparations to house 5 to 6 men in each room in a cramped building. 

The $6875 per bed per month cost the city is paying is equivalent to renting a large apartment  elsewhere in the city.   A search on Street Easy reveals luxury lofts with pools and city views available for the same price per month, including:

>>$7,000 for a Long Island City Penthouse with 1,500 square feet of outdoor space including a pool and fireworks views with 3 beds and 2 baths:

>>$6,900 for a 4 bedroom Williamsburg Duplex with 1,400 sq ft of space:

>>$7,000 For a 3 bed, 2 bath Williamsburg Penthouse with 1,600 Sq Feet:

>>$7,000 for a 2,500 Square Foot Williamsburg Loft.

>>$6,925 For a Dumbo Factory Loft with 1434 Sq Feet.

>>$6800 for a 2,000 Sq Feet 3 bed/2 bath luxury apartment in Tribeca.

Close Proximity to Schools:

Parents of schoolchildren of the 3 nearby schools have repeatedly raised concerns that the shelter is too close to schools that serve more than 1,200 students, many of them K-9. 

A Host of Building Safety Violations:

In April, neighbors called for a stop work order on construction due to outstanding violations including for gas piping work that has not been resolved since Jan 30, 2019.   A hearing on the matter scheduled for May 6 appears to have passed without action.    

The building has a host of building violations including walls that have been “bulging" since 2014.    

Profits in Housing the Homeless:

According to a 2013 New York Times article about landlords profiting off New York City homeless shelters, landlords keep nearly half of the amount of money the city’s Department of Homeless Services pays for housing the homeless.

In the wake of this report, this $33 million contract raises questions on how much Acuity Capital Partners and its CEO Elliot Neumann could profit from housing homeless men in New York City.   

Acuity Capital Partners owns buildings across the city and has been able to avoid affordable housing requirements - in a new development in Chelsea, according to a 2016 article by The Real Deal.

City Contracts Hearing:

On February 28, 2019 at a NYC Public Contracts Hearing, it was revealed that New York City's Department of Homeless Services would contract with Core Services Inc. to operate a "Stand Alone Transitional Residence for Homeless Single Adults" for $33,799,333.00 at 97 Wyckoff Ave over 5 years.  (See page 8 on this hearing recap).   The term of the contract is from February 1, 2019 to June 30, 2024 with an option to renew.

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