We Need an Emergency Town Hall Meeting in Crown Heights

A member of Kingsbrook Jewish Shul pens an op-ed on the need for immediate opposition to the new homeless shelter scheduled to be approved very soon.

By Jay Sorid – Member of Kingsbrook Jewish Shul, but written in an individual capacity

The current CHJCC, CHJCC candidates, the Jewish members of Community Board (“CB 9”) and the Jewish Political Action Committees should invite the final decision maker, Attorney General Letisha James, to hear from the public in an Emergency Town Hall Meeting to OPPOSE and MODIFY the current Vital Brooklyn Kingsboro Psych (aka 681 Clarkson Ave) proposal for new housing in the Shchuna. 

Project disapproval and recommendations for project modifications should ultimately be put into writing and directed to NYS Assemblyman Brian Cunningham and Attorney General (“AG”) Letisha James.  AG James will be signing off on this project very soon despite the cries of Yidden. Kingsboro_Psychiatric_Center_Mixed-Use_Project_Public_Scoping_Meeting_Recording_20230119 (1).mp4 (dropbox.com)       

“The Rebbe was speaking loudly ‘When your own Temple is in ruins, go rebuild it – don’t cry.  But when your brother’s Temple is in ruins, and you’ve done everything you can do, and you can’t help anymore, then you can cry.’”  The Lubavitcher Rebbe Recites Slichos Prayers | 10 Teves In 1964/5725 (youtube.com)  2 min 12 sec mark

Recommendation for project modification:  For supportive housing diversity and safety’s sake, INSTEAD OF transferring title to and rebuilding the 364 homeless shelter beds, adding 139 Behavioral Health Units (Serious Mental Illness) and adding 136 Chronically Homeless Units, REPLACE the aforementioned WITH  supportive housing for IDD (Intellectually Developmentally Disabled) (e.g. down syndrome, cerebral palsy)  units, Disabled Military Veterans as well as units for Alzheimers/Dementia patients.

Supportive housing IDD units needs to be increased to be proportional to existing supportive housing units for seriously mentally ill in Community District 9, because the Crown Heights/East Flatbush Jewish community has a special need for them and Jews were excluded from former Assemblywoman Diana Richardson’s Saturday Vital Brooklyn Public Meetings.

This was a blatant violation of Equal Protection laws and Citizen Participation requirements of NYS Block Grants and should be recognized and remedied by AG Letisha James by listening to modification proposals from a Jewish community that was shut out of the process.

Vital Brooklyn Kingsboro Psych violates the recommendations of it’s own 43rd Assembly Vital Brooklyn Community Proposal which stated, “It is vital that vulnerable groups are not mixed together, when considering the implementation of new affordable housing (i.e. individuals with mental illness should not reside with the senior population) https://www.dropbox.com/s/xbr5vzzlnxvkljs/richardson%20proposal%2043rd%20assembly%20district%20community%20advisory%20committee.pdf?dl=0 p. 11, bullet point 7

(See Attorney General Letisha James sign off requirement in August 7, 2020  Vital Brooklyn Request for Proposal) https://www.dropbox.com/s/29eo0mu00plpwl6/RFP%20-%20KIngsboro%20West.pdf?dl=0  ( p,14, last sentence)

New Community Board 9 Resolution Opposing and Modifying Vital Brooklyn Kingsboro Needed

The last Brooklyn Community Board 9 Resolution from Oct 4, 2023,  LetterofOppositionVitalBrooklynGovHochul.pdf (nyc.gov)   which opposed the project on the basis of not being informed and needing a public forum, became obsolete after Assemblyman Cunningham’s Nov 5, 2023  Vital Brooklyn Forum.   The relevant info has always been online since Jan’23.  CB 9 needs a new resolution, sent to the AG, opposing said project and adding project modifications.    See historical (1998) CB 9 Kingsboro Disapproval Vote.  970472.pdf (nyc.gov) p. 18

Parking Concerns for Project: 

Is building 1090 affordable housing units plus 364 residential beds with no parking spots going to help a local neighborhood that relies upon street parking because the subways are a distance away? ( the 14 parking spots are for the supermarket and other commercial offices).  ESD-KPC-DSOW.pdf (ny.gov)  See page 7.

Homeless Oversaturation Concerns for Project:

There will be approximately 791 supportive housing beds for the homeless at 681 Clarkson. ( corner of Albany & Clarkson/Winthrop).   This is composed of 326 units of supportive housing, plus 101 units of formerly homeless 62 and over senior citizens (30% of the 337 seniors) ( Kingsboro-Vital-Brooklyn-CB9-Housing-Committee-Presentation.pdf (nyc.gov) p.7),  plus rebuilding the 364 bed shelter.   I am conservatively assuming one unit has one residential bed of supportive housing which adds up to 791 residential beds, which is the equivalent of almost eight 100 bed shelters in one spot.  If half of the 427 supportive units have two residential beds each, add 213 beds and the total residential beds for supportive housing / homeless would climb to 1004.

Unlike the 110 bed “Breaking Ground” homeless shelter down the street at 781 Clarkson, which has  a nine year contract which started in  2017 and ends in 2026, the land at 681 Clarkson  is being sold (title to land transferred) to “Breaking Ground”, so that adds some permanence to the equation.   https://breakingground.org/our-housing/east-flatbush

To the west side of Albany & Winthrop/Clarkson, CAMBA Gardens I (690 & 638 Albany Ave – circa 2014) & CAMBA II (560 Winthrop Ave – circa 2018)   (recently built in 2018) has  328 supportive housing units (# of beds can be greater if units have more than one bed) for the serious mentally ill with a drug addiction and/or alcohol addiction.  ( for greater detail see – www.eastflatbush.info )

Traveling west to 329 Clarkson Ave, Vital Brooklyn Clarkson Estates at NY Ave will have 329 supportive units for homeless individuals exiting the jails, homeless foster kids, homeless youth, etc. Clarkson Estates | 1Empire State Development (ny.gov)

When you add them all up, you will have at least 1558 residential beds for the supportive housing / homeless on Clarkson Ave, assuming one bed per unit, which is conservative.  If each unit has two bedrooms, it’s more.   Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who lives on the very secure Fort Hamilton Army Base in South Brooklyn, recently passed the NYC Homeless Bill of Rights which removes curfews and allows the homeless to sleep outside.  NYC enacts ‘Homeless Bill of Rights,’ but doubts arise over key provisions such as right to shelter | AP News  This will invite loitering in the neighborhood.  Vital Brooklyn Kingsboro Psych will also no longer have complete iron fencing gating the perimeter, so shelter residents will be less restricted and will be able to roam around at all hours of the night.  ESD-KPC-DSOW.pdf (ny.gov) see page 8.  

Vital Brooklyn kingsboro psych will be a 24 hour Open Air Sanitarium unless you put pressure on community leaders to put pressure on AG Letisha james.

Modifying the project by replacing the homeless shelter beds, the seriously mentally ill drug and/or alcohol addictions and the chronically homeless with a different type of supportive housing which is under-represented and needed in the district, namely housing for Intellectual and Development Disabilities (IDD) will fill a need while also avoiding the need for additional security measures.  

The good news is that there are Crown Heights Jews with influence who know AG Letisha James and break bread with her every year. 

The bad news is that they are not speaking out (or talking out).

 “What is the point of talking out? It’ll just anger them.  And if they are angry, they’ll take it out by withholding funding from my institutions in Israel.  First of all, Jewish blood is literally being spilled, and Torah prohibits me from standing by without action.  Why are others not speaking out? I don’t know, that’s a question for them…..”   The Lubavitcher Rebbe Unfiltered | Terrorism | Party Politics | Peace Treaties (youtube.com) 28 min 44 sec  

“Every Jew is, by nature, a dreamer.  This is what enables us to tolerate the pain and sufferings of exile.  Were we not dreamers, we would never be able to endure the pain and sufferings, and especially when the suffering results – as the prophet says, ‘your destroyers will emerge from among you.’ ”     The Lubavitcher Rebbe Unfiltered | Terrorism | Party Politics | Peace Treaties (youtube.com)  29 min 50 sec    

“We therefore delegate the issue, to those who are involved in worldly matters, to call an emergency meeting, as was already discussed with them, and to ‘utilize the night following the day’ when the ‘moon is full’.  To already begin working on the plans, physical and natural, to renovate the houses in this neighborhood.  With regard to empty lots, they should seek ideas, in the natural realm – the Baal Hageulah will certainly assist, moreover they will certainly succeed – to build apartments and buildings where his followers can dwell.”   The Rebbe on Crown Heights Housing – YouTube      1 min 22 secs

(Affordable Housing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 09/21/22) “ The building’s 100-percent affordable component will range from studios up to four-bedroom units.  The three-and four bedroom units will offer laundry hookups and double sinks.  All of the apartments will be available at or below 80 percent area median (AMI), plus a small collection reserved for formerly homeless New Yorkers.”    Throop Corners Affordable Development Breaks Ground at 88 Throop Avenue in Broadway Triangle, Brooklyn – New York YIMBY 

The safety of women and the many children who run around the neighborhood is not negotiable.  (See story of An Orthodox woman would not shake the hand of a man who was not her husband.  “She knew this was not negotiable.  She would not violate her terms.”   Pope Bows to Orthodox Jewish Woman Who Stands Proud of Her Values. (youtube.com) 5 min 32 sec

Based upon the Rebbe’s words as I interpret them, I implore those Jewish Political Action Committees / Activists who are worthy of telling you who to vote for, to use their voice to publicly OPPOSE Vital Brooklyn Kingsboro Psych and demand MODIFICATIONS.  At this juncture,  expressing concerns, or simply requesting more info lacks decisiveness and is a fence-sitting maneuver by the politically skilled.  Since AG Letisha James had time to meet with Manhattan residents for “Drag Story Hour” and had time to attend the prestigious Jewish Children’s Museum’s  Annual GALA Dinner, she should have time to visit and hear from the parents who fear for their children’s safety in East Flatbush.  Attorney General James Hosts Drag Story Hour Read-A-Thon in New York City (ny.gov)

Stop protecting the politicians.

Start protecting the Shchuna.

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You’ve got to do something.

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  1. This seems important and I want to understand what’s being said. But there’s a lot of information and links and terms that I simply don’t know what they mean. It’s very hard to understand what’s really being said.
    Maybe there could be a more simplified version for people like myself?

    1. To much information.
      Please just tell us bullet point style what we can do
      * Call John Doe, title, at 718-***-****
      * Email Jane Doe, title, at …
      * Sign petition on www. ….
      Thank you

  2. I believe the article is saying that a thousand homeless are coming to CH endangering our community. Bottom line, we need to make a community joint statement to AG Letita James that we want to change it from homes for homeless to homes for special needs etc. Thank you Jay for your selfless work!

    1. Convince Letitia that Trump is behind it. That’ll be the only way to get her attention, as she’s decided that the purpose of her office is for political persecutions, not for actually enforcing the law.

  3. 1) A notorious 364 bed home shelter containing offenders, which leased the premises from NYC, now will get to own the land and be there permanently except with no more gated perimeter. This is an even bigger problem because PA Jumaane Williams new NYC law allows the homeless to sleep outside and not be subject to a curfew
    2) There are 326 supportive housing units for other groups of homeless individuals
    3) Thirty percent of the 337 senior units = 101 units which will be formerly homeless which means could be coming from the shelter
    4) Conservatively figuring each unit only has one bed, you get 364 shelter beds, plus 326 senior beds plus 101 senior formerly homes beds = at least 791 beds which is almost eight 100 bed shelters at 681 Clarkson
    5) Across the street going west at the SW corner of Albany & Clarkson in the relatively new brick buildings already is 328 more supportive units…
    6) at 781 Clarkson is a 110 bed shelter
    7) So my point of the article was to stop Clarkson Ave from becoming the Homeless Heights section of East Flatbush
    8) and out of 1090 new total rentals….there is zero parking sports…..
    9) many CH community activists are unfortunately political and my goal was to ask for a Town Hall whereby the CHJCC would tell AG Tish James who has to sign off on the project that said project should be modified to include more individuals who are Intellectually Developmentally Disabled, Alzeimers or Disabled Military persons, since there is a need in the community, and there would be less safety issues.
    10) So I sit here writing from Long Island and knowing CH real estate millionaires will sit down to break bread in two months at the Jewish Childrens Museum smiling with AG Letisha James oblivious that East Flatbush mothers are taking Ubers instead of walking at night by the shelters. The homeless population will double. There wont be curfews. and there wont be a completely gated tall iron perimeter fence like before.

    Your leaders will tell you they did not fight for you because they could not win. But did they even try ?
    Question: What did they have to lose?
    Answer: Their political favors from keeping the $450 million dollar project quiet and moving along.

    Jay Sorid
    Merrick, Long Island

  4. The Problem:
    -A new homeless shelter is planned in the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
    -This plan allocates many housing units to homeless and mentally ill people.
    -This makes the area dangerous and filthy.

    The Solution:
    This is a call to community council members and politicians to stop or modify the plans to keep the place safe.

    Call To Action:
    This letter is addressed to those to whom it may concern, meaning, if you understood the letter, you should probably stop reading this and call for a meeting with Letisha James.
    If you didn’t understand, like me, it’s not something you need to add to your erev shabbos list.

    No to homeless shelters in East Flatbush. Leaders must get their act together now.

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