The Health, Environment and Social Services Committee of Community Board 2 held a tense meeting Wednesday night as a representative of the city Department of Homeless Services defended his agency's running of the Auburn Shelter on St. Edwards Street and Auburn Place in Fort Greene.
Due to a misunderstanding as to whether DHS received the questions to be asked by committee members in advance, many concerns regarding the homeless shelter remained unaddressed.
DHS representative Alex Zablocki did cover some issues however, including those related to continuing concerns about a lack of proper heating at the shelter during the winter months. Zablocki assured the committee that Auburn has “protocols to check temperature, and clients can be transferred to another room if it’s too cold.”
The most recent questions about heating came months after DHS spent $8 million to repair the facade, including windows, at the facility. At a CB2 meeting in March, members of Fort Greene SNAP, a group critical of DHS' handling of the Auburn Shelter, said the real culprit was a faulty boiler housed next door at Cumberland Hospital.
Other issues were addressed at the meeting.
The Auburn shelter currently only has two microwaves for over 60 families, but Zablocki maintained that mealtimes are staggered so that families aren’t eating all at once.
DHS also addressed fire safety at the shelter, reporting that it was working on getting the system up to date.
The agency also announced the removal of single women from the shelter, making it only for families—as well as a new protocol for reports of verbal abuse of clients by staff.
The committee asked several other questions about elevators breaking down, units being shut down due to roof leakage, and lack of access to restrooms for people with limited mobility.
These concerns remained unaddressed by DHS due to the initial misunderstanding, with Zablocki announcing the formation of a community advisory board to discuss the issues.