The oversaturation and oversiting of temporary living facilities and homeless shelters has become a divisive issue for Bronx politicos, community boards and residents to tackle amid rising homelessness in the borough.
By their last count in November 2021, the city’s Department of Social Services (DSS) told the Bronx Times that 111 of the city’s 249 transitional living facilities are sited in the Bronx, with high concentrations of shelters in the west and south portions of the Bronx.
Since then shelters have been coming through into community board at a breakneck pace, various community board members shared with the Bronx Times.
One of the city’s latest shelter proposals, planned for 1298 Inwood Ave. in the Mt. Eden section, has prompted calls from Bronxites to facilitate more permanent housing than temporary living facilities to address homelessness in the borough.
“In order to adequately address this issue of homelessness in our community, while providing beneficial value to the existing community, we must continue to work in a collaborative effort to establish permanent housing over temporary housing.” said Stevens at a town hall on June 6.
Citing increasing homelessness among Bronxites, DSS officials told the Bronx Times their facilities are sited to ensure those in the shelter system are close to their support systems and familiar surroundings.
One of the biggest efforts by DSS has been to prevent the clustering of homeless shelters in New York City, a reversal of a 21-year-old Giuliani-era cluster program; the agency said they closed or repurposed 3,650 cluster units completely by Oct. 30, 2021.
DSS data doesn’t give the full scope of homelessness, as it excludes facilities such as faith-based, youth centers and overnight drop-in centers, which also doesn’t account for an estimated 4,000 New Yorkers who sleep on the street each night.
In the west Bronx — a four-community district region that includes Fordham, Belmont, Bedford Park and Kingsbridge — there are 63 shelters within the area’s 21.23 square-mile limits. In South Bronx-based community districts 1, 2 and 3, which span the neighborhoods of Melrose, Hunts Point and Morrisania, 38 facilities are sited within 6 square miles.
Bronx beep Vanessa Gibson said that there has been a historical saturation of family- and single-adult shelters in communities of color, such as CB4, and city administrators need to do a better job of addressing affordable and permanent housing.
“While we are experiencing a homelessness crisis, all communities must do their fair share and the Administration must act in a balanced and responsible way when siting new locations,” Gibson said. “We must focus on the urgent need for affordable and permanent housing and not building expensive shelters for temporary housing. I am adamantly opposed to this latest proposal by the City.”
Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes