A long-speculated homeless shelter and community center for women and children is officially in the works at 2201-2207 Neptune Ave., a spokesperson for Women In Need (WIN) confirmed to Coney Island News.
WIN, a non-profit shelter provider headed by former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is moving ahead with the shelter after proposing it to Community Board 13 last year amid environmental concerns. WIN anticipates the facility will be ready within 18 months to two years.
Initial application plans for the property were filed last week but rejected by the Department of Buildings (DOB) because they were incomplete — a common issue that will likely be rectified with a new application. The shelter will sit on the edge of Coney Island Creek near the Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented.
“The neighborhood currently has no shelter and the goal is for homeless families who are from Coney Island and the surrounding neighborhoods to have a shelter within their neighborhood, instead of being placed in shelters miles away from their home,” a WIN spokesperson told Coney Island News.
Occupancy use documents show that the proposed seven-floor, mixed-use building would include a transient hotel, but that’s a term WIN said is commonly used by the D.O.B. to label homeless shelters in the city. Filing plans also include offices, an employee lounge, child care, conference rooms, and a multi-purpose room.
But other details were scarce until we finally got ahold of WIN. Multiple calls and e-mails to the two people associated with the Department of Buildings filing — Shlomo Wygoda and owner Gal Horowitz — went unanswered, and Community Board 13 told Coney Island News last week that they were unaware of any recent developments beyond the DOB filings.
According to WIN, the facility will have 200 units and a 2,500 square-foot community space for local residents. According to a document WIN prepared ahead of a community board meeting last year, every unit will include a bathroom, kitchen, and closets. WIN claims that the facility will be “restricted to families, mainly single mothers, with children.”
“The city estimates roughly 125-150 homeless families are from the Coney Island neighborhood/region, so this shelter is designed to keep families where they are from and where they have ties to the community – i.e. where they work, go to school, where their family is,” WIN added.
According to the document, the facility will also bring 84 “full/part-time jobs” to the community and WIN will give preference to those who live in Coney Island. Among the jobs they listed include case managers, teachers, security guards, drivers, and city staff, among other roles.
Is it even safe?
The site of the planned facility has been mired in controversy in the past, partly because a previous tenant, the Brooklyn Yarn and Dye Company, was said to have poured toxins into the creek.
Plus, the creek is already plagued by serious environmental concerns. Researchers at Kingsborough Community College recently tested water in the creek and found excessive levels of fecal coliform bacteria, which can cause intestinal problems. Plus, Councilmember Mark Treyger was recently prompted to ask the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to investigate illegal dumping in the creek.
“As we await the results of the environmental assessment statement for the proposed location, we will be meeting with WIN representatives, the Department of Homeless Services, and the Community Board in the coming weeks regarding the filing of permits and other concerns raised by local residents,” Treyger told Coney Island News. “We will keep the community apprised as we learn more.”