Comptroller eyes DHS as G’point property purchased
by Lisa A. Fraser
Sep 01, 2011 | 2040 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The property at 400 McGuinness Blvd. in Greenpoint has been sold to hotel developer, Shimmie Horn.
The property at 400 McGuinness Blvd. in Greenpoint has been sold to hotel developer, Shimmie Horn.
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Comptroller John Liu has his eyes on the Department of Homeless Services’ dealings with real-estate man Shimmie Horn.

Horn recently purchased four Brooklyn buildings – including the controversial one at 400 McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint. It is reported that he plans to transform them into living spaces for the homeless.

The space at 400 McGuinness Blvd. was assessed as suitable for a 200-bed temporary men’s shelter by the DHS earlier in the year and Greenpoint residents, along with Councilman Stephen Levin, protested the move then.

Levin recently sent a letter to the comptroller asking him to investigate the DHS while expressing his concern with the purchase of the buildings, all of which, he says, were immediately targeted by homelessness providers and accepted by the Department of Homeless Services as appropriate locations for shelters.

“Mr. Horn’s recent investment in numerous large-scale Brooklyn properties has drawn my attention because it seems to reveal a degree of confidence that the buildings he is buying, will, in fact, become homeless shelters through DHS’s open-ended RFP,” Levin wrote.

Levin says that the pattern of purchases indicate some type of arrangement between the two, “whereby he purchases properties that have been essentially pre-approved by DHS for shelter use,” making for a bypass of a transparent and fair process.

The arrangement, Levin said, subverts the city’s Fair Share policy and calls into question DHS’s contracting process.

He also noted that the supposed arrangement with the DHS contracting with a private partner allows for the agency to avoid the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, (ULURP) which allows applications affecting land use of the city to be publicly reviewed. The ULURP process includes review by the Department of City Planning, the City Planning Commission, community boards and the City Council, among others.

“DHS does not conduct its Fair Share Analysis, SEQR, CEQR, and EAS reviews until after the contract terms are agreed to by both the agency and the provider,” Levin wrote. “Yet, this flurry of purchases is happening almost a year before those public reviews can even begin.”

Levin asked that the comptroller “seriously investigate DHS’s siting policy and its relationship with Mr. Horn.”

Stefan Friedman, spokesman for Shimmie Horn, said that Mr. Horn has “absolutely no contractual relationship whatsoever with the Department of Homeless Services; rather, Mr. Horn contracts directly with the non-profits that assist those looking to put a roof over the heads.”

“As the owner of facilities for the homeless across the city, Mr. Horn works with a range of non-profits to help homeless New Yorkers get off the streets and into residences. His record of providing quality housing for the disenfranchised is without blemish,” Friedman said in a statement. “As there is no contractual relationship between Mr. Horn and DHS, any suggestion of an inappropriate relationship is patently absurd.”

Mike Loughran, a spokesperson for the comptroller, noted that Liu’s office does share Levin’s concerns about the clustering of homeless shelters in certain neighborhoods.

In addition to 400 McGuiness, the four buildings purchased include 1424 Herkimer Street in Ocean Hill, and 1000 Blake Avenue and 645 Van Siclen Avenue in East New York.

“Unfortunately, this disturbing issue extends beyond the Councilman’s district,” Loughran said in a statement. “Our office has been working with elected officials from across the City to hold DHS accountable to a fair, transparent and equitable siting process.”

The comptroller has not officially launched an investigation into the DHS’s dealings with Shimmie Horn.
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