Petition Regarding Proposed Homeless Shelters at 535 and 555 4th Avenue

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Committee For 4th Avenue
Committee For 4th Avenue signed this petition

Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Brad Lander:
 
We are residents of Gowanus and Park Slope who are concerned about the DHS plan to lease two unfinished apartment buildings at 535 and 555 4th Avenue for use as homeless shelters.  We support the city’s efforts to house the homeless, but we believe that locating two large buildings for the homeless on two adjacent blocks is not fair to our community.  By means of this petition, we would like to voice our opposition to the shelters as they are currently planned. This being said, please note that our community is open to welcoming a shelter of a reasonable size upon the provision of appropriate information, notice, and an opportunity for our concerns to be heard and addressed. Please note:
 
1.  It is a principle of modern city planning to aim for population diversity both on a large and a local scale.  Planning 253 units for the homeless plus 20 affordable units (a population of perhaps 1000) on two adjoining blocks is concentration rather than diversity. 
 
2.  According to a statement made by DHS at the May 1st meeting at John Jay, a time limit of 1 year will be imposed on the families housed in these shelters.  This requirement will make integration impossible and will negatively affect the sense of community.
 
3.  4th Avenue between 9th Street and Prospect Avenue and the adjacent portion of Gowanus have already borne far more than their share of responsibility for the city’s social and environmental problems.  These include a DSNY Garage, a DSNY Waste Transfer Station, the highly polluting DOT Hamilton Avenue Asphalt Plant, the Gowanus Parole Center, a canal designated as a superfund site, the Gowanus Expressway, and heavy truck traffic.
 
4.  4th Avenue is a street that needs support from the city if it is to fulfill its vision of becoming a flourishing residential neighborhood.  And yet the city has failed to follow through with its promise to permanently expand the central malls and plant trees. Residential development remains incomplete.  4th Avenue from 9th Street to Prospect Avenue, which includes the proposed homeless sites, has the least commercial development; only a single restaurant has been able to operate successfully, and there is not a single supermarket.  4th Avenue from 9th Street to Prospect Avenue is still in a vulnerable and nascent stage of development.  Placing two large homeless shelters directly beside one another at this time jeopardizes the further development of both commercial businesses and residential housing in our neighborhood. 
 
5.  P.S. 124, adjacent to the proposed homeless housing, is a struggling school, in which only a small percentage of parents are able to assist the P.T.A.  A large influx of high needs children will further strain the school’s resources.  Moreover, the transient nature of the population will impede parental commitment to the local schools.
 
6.  As taxpayers, we are concerned about the city’s leasing apartments at rents intended for the luxury market.
 
7.  The announcement of the homeless apartments comes as a complete surprise to the community.  We emphatically believe that the proposal needs greater community discussion and should not move forward without the community’s voice being heard.

Committee for Fourth Avenue