CB11 to send letter asking for proposed men’s shelter to house families or women

The site of the future shelter in Westchester Square on Blondell Avenue.
Photos by Jason Cohen

As a men’s shelter is prepared to open next year in Community Board 11, not everyone in the neighborhood is on board.

On Thursday Sept. 24, CB11 approved a letter that would ask the city to change the proposed men’s only homeless shelter on Blondell Avenue. The community said that instead of a men’s shelter, the location would be better suited for senior housing, a combination of senior citizen and affordable housing, solely affordable housing or a homeless shelter for families.

According to District Manager Jeremy Warneke, there are currently no shelters in CB11.

“We would rather have senior housing or a combination of affordable,” said Sandra Unger, the co-chair of the Health and Social Services Committee. “If we have to have a homeless shelter, it should be for families, not for homeless men.”

Board member Hazel Miura shared her sentiments.

“It’s [shelters] being rammed down everyone’s throat whether we like it or not,” she said. “I feel homeless shelters for families are something we should look into.”

Other members were not in favor of sending the letter. Natali Medina stressed that homelessness is a huge issue and only becoming worse with COVID-19.

“Why is it a priority for a family homeless shelter?” Medina said.

Christian Amato and Patricia Charles also voted against the shelter. Charles stressed that homeless men need supportive services. If given the right guidance, then maybe people would not be as worried about them, she said.

Amato noted the pandemic  may cause mass evictions and the community should be there to help people in their time of need.

“Your housing needs are being exacerbated right now,” Amato said. “People who are struggling are being forced out of their apartment. I think it’s really important to have a local shelter.”

On Aug. 19, Foremost Real Estate under the 1400 Blondell LLC, filed permits with the Department of Buildings to construct a  3-story building for a transient shelter and a health care clinic at 1374 Blondell Ave. in Westchester Square.

The building will have 18 units, be 44-feet tall and have 31,362 square feet for commercial space and 3,013 square feet for community facility space.

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