Not Again


They’re doing it again.

The developers of the homeless shelter proposed for 226 Beach 101st Street have done this before. They’ve already placed a homeless shelter on Beach 65th Street in 2014. Yosef Rabinowitz, who purchased the Beach 101st warehouse in March 2018, is listed as the managing agent of the Beach 65th shelter. Rabinowitz and his Liberty One Group have been in the business of opening shelters for at least two decades, making money off the backs of the homeless individuals they claim to help, in neighborhoods that don’t have the resources to help them. Now they’re trying it again on Beach 101st Street in a literal warehouse that will house up to 120 homeless men.

The Department of Homeless Services is doing it again. When DHS confirmed this news, they fed the press the same prefabricated quote that they’ve fed to other neighborhoods that are also set to get shelters, all part of Mayor de Blasio’s Turning the Tide plan of creating 90 homeless shelters across the city. “This location will be the first of its kind in this Community District, offering 120 individuals experiencing homelessness the opportunity to get back on their feet closer to their anchors of life. Working together with neighbors and not-for-profit service provider Black Vets for Social Justice, we’re confident that these families will be warmly welcomed—and through collaborative support and compassion, we will make this the best experience it can be for these individuals as they get back on their feet.”

DHS didn’t even bother to change the quote to reflect the reality of who is headed this way. The statement says, “We’re confident that these families will be warmly welcomed.” Families? It’s 120 men.

DHS dropping the name of Black Veterans for Social Justice (BVSJ) was strategic. The mere mention of veterans tugged at the heartstrings of some in a community that stands for those who stand for us. But DHS never said this shelter would be for veterans. All they disclosed was that it would be 120 men. Had it indeed been for veterans, DHS would have mentioned that, as the backlash may not have been so strong. Yet the misinformation about the shelter being for veterans quickly spread.

But some research quickly proved what BVSJ does with its shelters. BVSJ operates another shelter for 200 homeless men in Brooklyn—Pamoja House. According to BVSJ’s website: “Pamoja House specializes in managing a homeless population that was refused from other shelters in New York City and is a ‘next-step’ facility. Residents of Pamoja House were deemed ‘non-compliant’ in general population shelters approximately half of our residents are formerly incarcerated or had some contact with the criminal justice system. The shelter permits residents from age 18 to 65, but the bulk of the population are quite young, between the ages 18 to 40.”

Is this what Rockaway needs around two schools with more than 5,000 children? Is this what Rockaway needs near homes? Is this what Rockaway needs near new businesses that decided to take a chance on this area and old ones that are still trying to stay afloat?

The question we want answered above all others: where will these homeless find work? Rockaway has one of the highest unemployment rates in the city. Is that where you place the homeless? 

Rockaway is being used as a dumping ground again. But it will fight again, as it has, time and time again. For Rockaway, there was no bigger opponent than Hurricane Sandy. But the little neighborhood that could was able to bounce back and win. And Rockaway will fight this. Enough is enough. Not again.