Greenpoint Homeless – What Do We Do?

by Heather Van De Mark on

Recently, the Greenpoint Reformed Church, a GWAPP Member Organization, opened their doors to a 10-bed homeless shelter program run by local non-profit Common Ground. Apparently, it’s been received with mixed review from the church’s neighbors.

As Holly Fairall pointed out in her previous post, “The McGolrick Park Homeless . . . It’s Complicated” when it comes to the homeless situation in Greenpoint, we need to “think, write, speak and let those in charge know that you care and that this is important to our community.”

Read about the Church’s shelter and community reactions at “Greenpoint Homeless Shelter On Milton St; Residents Less Than Thrilled.

What do you think can be done or should be done about our local homeless population? How do we prevent them from congregating in parks and open spaces? What if a homeless shelter was located next door to you, would your feelings change? Let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: NYC Department of Homeless Services is conducting a Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) on January 28, and they need a lot of volunteers to help. For complete details, visit HOPE 2013.

Heather Van De Mark

Heather Van De Mark

Heather is a designer/writer specializing in non-profit organizations and social causes. Originally from central NY, Heather settled into the charming Greenpoint neighborhood in 2011. While most of her community activism takes place from behind a computer screen, Heather can often be found at CB1 meetings, the McCarren Park track and any of the parks along the waterfront.
  • Rolf Carle commented:

    Dear GWAPP,

    As you know, the three most important things to do BEFORE initiating any program in Greenpoint are: 1-Outreach, 2-Outreach and 3- Outreach.

    Did the Greenpoint Reformed Church, a member group of GWAPP, reach out to your organization regarding the 10 respite beds?

    Did Councilman Stephan Levin or the North Brooklyn Homeless Task Force reach out to GWAPP with details of Common Ground’s latest program on Milton Street?

    As of this writing, none of these groups or individuals have reached out to the residents of Milton Street even though the program started in November of last year with administrative details known as far back as September…four months ago!

    The Greenpointers Blog article that you mentioned, failed to mention this lack of outreach but more importantly, it failed to include at least five other major impacts the church has on Milton Street which led one resident to ask, “what will be the next thing to happen on our block that we don’t know about?”

    This is not about ten beds, this is about communication and transparency from our government and from our neighbor. – Rolf Carle, Milton Street


    • GWAPP

      GWAPP commented:

      Rolf, the concerns you bring up are absolutely valid and certainly raises the importance that community outreach must play in dealing with our local homeless population. We understand that there is a feeling that outreach to the surrounding community was lacking in the consideration of the respite beds. I’ll refer you to this open letter from Reverend John Merz, Vicar at the Church of the Ascension, about the process behind the decision.

      Councilman Steve Levin will be holding a community meeting to discuss the issue on Jan. 24, 2013. The location is TBA, however we will publicize it as soon as it is announced.


      • Rolf Carle commented:

        Thank you, GWAPP
        I’ll repeat myself. The issue on Milton Street is the cumulative impact the church has on the block. It is not about any one program. Will Councilman Levin be discussing all our issues on January 24th or only one? The Greenpointers’ blog article and Father Merz’s letter does not discuss or represent Milton Street’s many issues, nor should they.

        In regards to Father Merz’s letter, He ironically suggests we not discuss issues on internet discussion boards then proceeds to comment on them. Father Merz, Councilman Levin and Pat McDonnell of Common Ground were all members of the North Brooklyn Homeless Task Force. Here is a translated excerpt from an article in the Polish newspaper, NOWY DZIENNIK: (

        “….The coalition of institutions cooperating over the creation of the shelters has not yet revealed exact addresses of the shelters “in order to avoid unnecessary protests by residents,” said Pat McDonnell, head of the North Brooklyn Homeless Task Force.”

        I contacted Pat McDonnell, over two weeks ago, to question her about the quote attributed to her. She did not return my phone call. If this quote is true, I find it very disturbing that the address of the 10 bed respite was kept secret and that anyone will decide for me what is or is not “necessary”. – Rolf Carle, Milton Street