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May 22, 2003
Court Upholds Shelter in Brooklyn

by Merle English
A nonprofit group that provides temporary housing and jobs for the homeless has won a three-year court battle to convert a former Brooklyn factory into a shelter.

The ruling by the Appellate Division of Brooklyn State Supreme Court allows The Doe Fund to create a transitional shelter for 400 men in the 74,000-square-foot former knitwear factory on Porter Avenue in Bushwick. A group of Brooklyn business owners, residents and elected officials had filed a lawsuit opposing the shelter, contending it would deviate from the community's business plans and attract crime.

Commenting on the ruling, George McDonald, founder and president of The Doe Fund, said, "It means we'll be able to expand our award-winning, national model work program for more homeless New Yorkers that are ready, willing and able; give them transitional housing, paid work and social services, and prepare them to get a job in the private sector and make enough money to pay rent."

A 22-year, $175 million contract was awarded to the organization in 2000 under the Giuliani administration when the city decided to close the 800-bed Bellevue Homeless Shelter in Manhattan. The Porter Avenue shelter is scheduled to open in December. In a statement, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said of the court's order, "The courts are allowing the city to totally ignore the very laws that were established to guarantee that communities would be involved in the siting of substantial facilities like this mega temporary shelter." Jim Anderson, a spokesman for the Department of Homeless Services, said, "This is good news. The Doe Fund followed all procedures and protocols very fully and faithfully, and we were very confident that the court would find that was the case."

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