Recently, Bronx Community Board 10 had received word from the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) that a traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Roberts Avenue and Crosby Avenue. This signal was among the many requests that the Board had forwarded to the DOT concerning traffic safety issues in our service area. The signal was needed to aid school children and pedestrians in crossing this busy street.
As previously reported in this column, an organization known as the Community Action for Human Services has informed the board that it intends to establish a group home for six developmentally disabled individuals at 3407 Bruckner Boulevard, at Waterbury Estates. On October 7, the board conducted a public meeting to discuss this matter. The sponsor described the program and the need to relocate from another portion of the Bronx, to our community board, due to substandard housing conditions at their present location. The Health and Human Services Committee asked a series of relevant questions concerning the number of clients to be served, the price of the residence (which is paid for from public funds) and many other questions. The committee took a vote and determined that the sponsor should seek alternative locations in the area that they currently serve.
At this point, it might be useful to discuss group homes in general. The establishment of group homes for the developmentally disabled came about because of a court case that resulted in the Willowbrook Decrees. The Willowbrook Decrees governed the closing of the Willowbrook State Hospital, which provided nothing more than custodial care for those challenged by what was referred to in 1970s, as mental retardation. Today, the term is developmentally disabled. Conditions at the hospital were so bad that it was closed and the patients, now referred to as clients, were sent to live in a variety of small residential units, known as group homes. Within these homes, the clients numbering about six to a home, either have individual bedrooms, or share a bedroom with another client. They eat their meals together and perform all the daily chores that go with maintaining a home. There are activities for the clients in resource rooms and staff is available around the clock to assist the clients and to operate the home. During the day, the clients attend school or work in sheltered workshops. On weekends they attend recreational activities. Non-profit organizations, such as Community Action for Human Services have been charged by the State with the responsibility of operating the homes. These organizations are supervised by the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities or OMRDD.
Vacant properties such as 3407 Bruckner Boulevard have become attractive to governmental agencies, such as the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. In the case of any house being considered by this agency, the placement of such homes in a given community is governed by legislation known as the Padavan Law, named after State Senator Frank Padavan. This law allows for the following: community notification by the sponsor of the home, a public hearing to be conducted by a local governmental body (in New York City, this body is the local community board), the right of the affected community to oppose the home on the grounds of over saturation, the right of the affected community to offer alternatives and the right of the sponsoring agency to appeal the decision of the Community Board, before the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Group homes are the law of the land and any decision that the Community Board makes is purely advisory. However, the Padavan Law allows for community input into the decision for placement of these homes in the neighborhood, and the Community Board is working within the confines of this law.
In the case of 3407 Bruckner Boulevard, the Housing and Zoning Committee of the board will offer its resolution to the full board for a vote at its next public meeting.
The status of the group home is still open. Look to future columns for further developments.
The United States Census Bureau will soon be conducting the census and they are looking for people to fill managerial roles within their organization. The job titles include Local Census Office Manager, Assistant Manager for Administration, Assistant Manager for Recruiting, Assistant Manager for Field Operations, Assistant Manager for Quality Assurance and Assistant Manager for Technology. These are very good jobs that provide competitive salaries. Anyone interested can contact the U.S. Census Bureau at 1-800-991-2520 or by writing U.S. Bureau-New York – Program Recruiter – 395 Hudson Street-Ste 800, New York, NY 10014-7451-212-584-3400.
The board office is ready to assist you with any problem or concern that you may be having with a City agency. Our Office is opened from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Our phone number is (718) 892-1161, fax number is (718) 863-6860 and our e-mail is BX10@CB.nyc.gov.