Brooklyn—the expensive parts of Brooklyn, the parts of Brooklyn you read about in higher-end trend stories—prides itself on being a great bastion of liberalism and diversity, a place where the intelligentsia can be proud to live. In fact, many of the proud liberals in these parts of Brooklyn are full of shit.
Brooklyn is extremely segregated, racially and economically. Okay, fine. That's a larger problem. Can't hang that one completely on the residents of nicer neighborhoods. But with that reality as the backdrop, you can decry the residents of nicer neighborhoods for being complete fucking hypocrites when it comes time to allow a tiny bit of reality to creep into their well-maintained fortresses of gentrification, for the sake of the civic good.
You may have noticed that the American economy is not so good these days. One of the many effects of that is that, here in NYC, homelessness "has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression." Therefore, the city must open more homeless shelters. Last month, a homeless shelter opened in Greenpoint—after years of bitter opposition and legal threats from the local neighborhood association. Now, the city wants to build a homeless shelter in Carroll Gardens—a plan which is being met by exactly the same sort of community opposition. But, but, but, you see, they have plenty of excuses, you see. From the NYT:
Because the Carroll Gardens neighborhood is proud of its liberal cast, residents like Maria Pagano have taken pains to say they are not opposed to housing the homeless or accommodating other social-service institutions; the neighborhood already has a residence for battered women and a busy methadone clinic.
"We already have people in our community who are borderline homeless," said Ms. Pagano, president of another neighborhood association.
Everyone! Quickly! Fetch a cool draught of water for beleaguered Carroll Gardens, where they already have people who are "borderline homeless." Carroll Gardens, you've done more than enough. Please. Go sit on the sidelines now.
The reactions of these two nice Brooklyn neighborhoods to the prospect of doing something that is good for the city as a whole is a good opportunity to remind ourselves about a few things.
1. The city of New York is compelled to house all of its homeless people somewhere.
2. Sometimes new homeless shelters must be built.
3. It makes sense for these to be spread out across the city in a rational manner. And since homeless shelters can be interpreted as a bit of burden on the surrounding neighborhood, it makes sense that all the neighborhoods of the city share hosting duties fairly.
4. I mean, you wouldn't want to just locate homeless shelters in poor, minority neighborhoods, do you, fancy upper class Brooklynites? Because that would be classist and racist and selfish. No, of course you don't want that.
5. Hey, it's almost Christmas, let's all pitch in to help our fellow citizens.
6. "There but for the grace of god go I."
Your fellow New Yorkers thank you for doing your civic duty with grace.