NEW YORK - People living inside of the Flatlands Family Residence, a shelter in Brooklyn are blasting New York City’s policies as it continues to struggle to figure out how to handle its homelessness problem.
“The system is falling and it’s crumbling, this is anarchy,” said Ishmael Harris, who lives at the shelter.
Harris and his five-year-old son were told Saturday that they needed to move out of the shelter, without any prior notice. Harris and his one are just one of roughly 83 families who are being suddenly moved.
Stephen Levin, the chair of the City Council Committee on General Welfare, says that the city plans to relocate those families to accommodate women who were temporarily living at the Long Island City Plaza Hotel in Queens.
“And, so those are families that will have to get moved a week before school starts in this chaotic time, and for no real reason,” Levin said.
Levin calls the move part of a “domino effect,” stemming from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to pull hundreds of homeless men out of the Upper West Side’s Lucerne Hotel, where they had been temporarily living due to COVID-19.
Some city officials say they believe de Blasio is attempting to appease well-to-do residents in the neighborhood, who are concerned about an increase in crime and “quality of life” issues.
“These are human beings and they should not be getting tossed around from community to community,” said City Councilmember Ben Kallos.
Mayor de Blasio’s office and the Department of Homeless Services did not return a request for comment, however, the Legal Aid Society says it will not rest until the city builds a culture of transparency with its shelter residents.
The Legal Aid Society has also threatened to sue the city unless mayor de Blasio meets their demands, including meeting with every family individually to determine their needs, help them relocate, and give them enough notice to leave.