Bensonhurst community rallies against new homeless shelter

Hundreds of people took over the intersection of 25th Avenue and 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn Saturday afternoon to stop a homeless shelter from opening. 

"We can do the right thing for them, affordable housing, great, use the money. But don't tell us taxpayers with our money what to do with it," long-time resident Vinny said. 

Residents, business owners, and politicians all came together demanding the city put the shelter elsewhere. Marie Brullo has been living in Bensonhurst since 1966 and said this is not a solution. 

"It's just going to cause more problems than we already have. It's going to increase crime. People are going to be fighting against them, it's going to be a war here," she said. 

The city says the homeless shelter is set to open later this year at 2501-2511 86th Street. 

According to the city's Department of Homeless and Social Services, the site will house 150 homeless men, including those experiencing mental health challenges – something Michael Huang, a father, is worried about because he says there are too many schools in this area. 

"We're concerned that the homeless will affect the safety of kids," Huang said.

Assemblyman William Colton represents this district and is against the shelter.

"This is the wrong place and the wrong policy homeless shelters don't help homeless people, and we are not going to be silent about it," said Assemblyman Colton. 

However, according to the city, this community has zero shelters. This would be the first, noting every community must do its part to support those in need. 

A spokesperson for DSS told FOX 5 NY:

"This will be the first shelter in this community district offering New Yorkers experiencing homelessness the critical opportunity to receive quality care as they get back on their feet. As part of our equitable shelter siting approach, we are ensuring that every community has the safety net resources to help their vulnerable neighbors, and this community district has no shelters so we look forward to bringing this vital resource to the community. Working together with our not-for-profit provider-partner VIP, we will be providing robust wraparound supports as dedicated staff work closely with shelter residents to help them stabilize their lives and move into permanent housing. As we have always done, we will continue to maintain open lines of communication with the community and remain committed to ongoing engagement as we work collaboratively to support our neighbors in need."

The Department of Social Services notified the community about building the shelter in November 2023. 

It's set to be a high-quality shelter with a number of resources on sites, including mental health services for men. 

Editor's note (1): A previous version of this report incorrectly stated that Assemblyman William Colton does not support homeless New Yorkers.

Editor's note (2): Editor’s Note: The New York City Department of Social Services has reached out to FOX 5 NY correcting a previous statement. The provider for the shelter is VIP, not Project Renewal.