East New York Residents Sue Over Glut of Homeless Shelters

July 31, 2013 | Andy Cush

In East New York, there are nine homeless shelters. In the community district that encompasses Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Gowanus, Red Hook, and Cobble Hill, there is one. It’s no secret that low-income areas bear the brunt of shelters across the cities–hello, Bed-Stuy (25 shelters) and Brownsville (19)–but a group of East New Yorkers are taking action against what they see as an unfair imbalance, suing the city’s Department of Homeless Services. The plaintiffs argue that the DHS is in violation of the city charter’s “fair share” clause, which stipulates that certain facilities (like shelters) must be spread evenly across the city.

“We’re not making the argument that East New York is the only community that’s saturated with shelters,” said Christopher Banks, one of the plaintiffs. “We’re just saying that if you look across the entire city, communities like ours are being oversaturated.”

A Brooklyn Bureau points out, this isn’t the first lawsuit of its kind. Upper West Side and Ocean Hill residents followed similar suits in recent years as well.