The sponsor of a homeless residence in University Heights was accused of being rude, arrogant and evasive by those who attended a town hall meeting.
The meeting was called to air concerns about the men moving into the city’s landmark $62.8 million homeless residence at 233 Landing Road in University Heights. It was held Wednesday, October 25, at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church, in the Fr. Smith Center, 2345 University Center.
Organized by the NYC Department of Homeless Services and the Bowery Residents Committee, the meeting focused on the site’s 200-bed transitional shelter and 135 permanent units due to be occupied this December.
“I think DHS and BRC didn’t expect the big turnout,” said Rachel Bradshaw, vice president, Fordham Hill Oval Owners Association. “They did all in their power not to promote the event. Our co-op had to canvass the neighborhood. Our co-op is the reason the town hall happened in the first place. We were persistent.”
The town hall attendees asked a lot of hard-hitting questions, according to Bradshaw, but were left lacking answers. Those questions included:
• Is Megan’s Law applicable to the homeless population?
• Does BRC really have jobs for these men?
• Why didn’t BRC and DHS engage the community?
• Why was 233 Landing Road selected — it has egress issues?
• How will the children that play sports near Landing Road Park be protected?
“There were many passionate speakers,” Bradshaw said. The common theme was “200 men are too much for this community. The concern is safety, overpopulation and overburdening the already crowded Select Bx 12 bus.”
Myrna Calderon, association president, was upset that “DHS commissioner David Banks was so disrespectful to our community that he only sent low level staffers to address our issues. They have not bothered to meet with the local precinct to insure adequate policing. They need to admit that the city does not abide by Megan’s Law.”
Chad Y. Royer, secretary on the association’s board of directors, said that the BRC and DHS were not prepared.
Their spokespeople were “very dismissive in that they not only omitted issues, but lied as well,” Royer said. “One of the shareholders asked about security outside the complex, and as I made a comment to suggest the question was not answered, one of the speakers got smart to say if the guy asking the question did not say anything, then meant my statement was wrong.”
Also, in response to his question about Megan’s Law, he was told that officials have “applied all of the laws,” Royer said. “This was a blatant disregard of a specific point. What got me also was the fact that there is no on-site center for addressing mental health or offering mental health therapy. How could this be omitted on a compound serving two distinct demographics?”
Royer feels that “this is so wrong to set people up to fail, and then expect us to accept the fact that people will be moving in an area with many documented unresolved issues.”
The residence will also offer 111 studios for single adults earning no more than $21,175 annually; seven one-bedroom units for households of two earning no more than $34,550 annually; 17 two-bedroom units for families of three earning no more than $46,620 annually; and one superintendent unit.