City holds contract hearing on Capri Whitestone homeless shelter

The former Capri Whitestone Motel has become a homeless shelter.
Community News Group / Photo by Patrick Rocchio

It appears that a homeless shelter at the former Capri Whitestone Motel near Ferry Point Park may be with us for a few more years.

Civic leaders, Community Board 10, and elected officials offered non supportive testimony at a hearing in Manhattan held by the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.

The city wants to extend the homeless shelter’s contract to use the shuttered motel for another four years.

The Thursday, March 19 hearing was about a potential contract that would make the Crystal Family Residence, which houses up to 91 families, permanent through June 30, 2019, said several attendees.

The city has, as of press time, not confirmed the specifics, or whether the contract has been approved.

The Department of Homeless Services facility opened on a temporary basis in September. Service provider Acacia Network runs it.

Senator Jeff Klein offered testimony that began by saying he understands that there is a homelessness crisis in the city, and that much needs to be done to help individuals avoid becoming homeless and to transition back to permanent housing quickly.

Nevertheless, he opposed the siting of the shelter on several grounds.

“The haphazard way the Capri was transformed into a temporary transitional homeless shelter and presented to the community has left a bad taste in the mouth of the community at large,” stated Klein. “This resentment will further prevent an atmosphere where the needs of the families in crisis are met effectively.”

Klein added that the location and operation of the site so far raises issues about the delivery of services to the families.

With a new golf course opening near the homeless shelter, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto testified that he believes the city is missing an economic development opportunity with a new golf course nearby in Ferry Point Park’s east side.

“I continue to believe that City Hall is missing out on a chance to create a showcase attraction in the Bronx by piggybacking on the presence of the Trump Links Golf Course,” said Benedetto adding the city should develop “the western side of Ferry Point Park into a shoreline tourist attraction which can be served by a new top-tier hotel on the Capri site.”

The assemblyman was also disappointed, according to his statement, that his efforts to find an alternative site in the 82nd Assembly District were rebuffed by DHS, making him believe that the agency cared less about finding a better location and more about imposing their will upon the community.

Dotti Poggi, of the Ferry Point Community Advocates, was not able to attend the hearing because of a conflict, but said she has numerous concerns.

These include what she describes as a general sense of lawlessness in parts of Ferry Point Park’s west side during previous summers, near the shelter.

She also said that the neighborhood is a small community of about 40 homes that has seen its population roughly doubled by the new homeless population, changing the neighborhood’s profile almost overnight.

“We are now a neighborhood where the majority of people do not work,” she said.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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