Possible expansion of Bed-Stuy shelter worries residents and advocates

January 20, 2011 01:07PM

The city is considering doubling the capacity of the Pamoja House homeless shelter, at 357 Marcus Garvey Boulevard in Bedford-Stuyvesant, making room for 400 men, a decision that worries neighbors and advocates for the homeless, the New York Times reported. “Crowding hundreds of men onto an armory drill floor is a dangerous, unnecessary step backwards to the bad old days of the 1980s,” said Patrick Markee, a senior policy analyst with Coalition for the Homeless, in a statement. An average of 8,511 people required shelter each night in December, compared with 6,967 in December 2009, numbers not seen since the winter of 2004.

“We are reaching the point now where if the current trends continue for the winters as we expect them to, we will have to add new capacity,” said Seth Diamond, the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services. According to Diamond, the city is constructing sleeping bays, to ensure that the people who stay in the shelter will have privacy. While no more men have yet been moved to the armory, the space is designated as a backup if something happens at another shelter. He said the building would function as two separate shelters, both run by the non-profit group Black Veterans for Social Justice. [NYT]