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The city’s Department of Homeless Services will not establish a stand-alone family shelter at 2903 Valentine Avenue, agency spokeswoman Linda Bazurjian said.
So DHS has informed Community Board 7 and would-be operator Aguila Inc., the same non-profit responsible for two controversial cluster-site shelters in Bedford Park.
According to Bazurjian, DHS solicits stand-alone shelter Requests for Proposals. In this case, Aguila director Peter Rivera submitted a proposal for 2903 Valentine; following a raucous CB7 housing committee meeting in January, DHS turned him down.
“Good news and bad news,” CB7 district manager Fernando Tirado said. “We’re happy about Valentine. We’re still upset about Mosholu and Briggs.”
Aguila has managed a cluster-site homeless shelter at 15-19 W. Mosholu Parkway North since October, another at 3001 Briggs Avenue since December.
Five non-profit agencies administer the city’s cluster-site program. Cluster-site shelters mix units for DHS clients next to regular apartments. At 15-19 W. Mosholu, 21 of the building’s 50 units are reserved for DHS clients.
In both cases, tenants and community members accused DHS and Aguila of keeping secrets. The cluster-site shelters opened without prior notification. CB7 also lodged a formal complaint.
According to some tenants, the cluster-site program encourages landlords to force out rent-paying tenants. What’s more, there are 163 open housing violations at 15-19 W. Mosholu, 315 at 3001 Briggs.
From now on, DHS will announce scatter-site shelters set to occupy at least half the units in a building. Housing activists haven’t warmed to the compromise.
“Why convert existing affordable housing into transitional housing ever?” said John Reilly of the non-profit Fordham-Bedford Housing Corporation.
Valentine Towers LLC, a Genesis Realty company, acquired 2903 Valentine – a vacant lot – in 2004, then announced plans to build 12 stories of luxury housing. CB7 approved the plans and construction began.
At some point, Valentine Towers LLC decided against luxury housing and met with Aguila, Tirado said. Members of CB7 felt duped this year when 2903 Valentine Avenue emerged as a potential home for hundreds of homeless men, women and children.
One- and two-family homes comprise most of the block. Nearby P.S. 8 is severely overcrowded. The lot is still under construction. Neither Aguila nor Genesis responded to phone calls by press time. Rivera is the son of Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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