Coop grapples with shelter/Fordham Hill residents ready to fight DHS

Carlos Martin expresses his concerns over the planned opening of a men’s homeless residence at 233 Landing Road, during a town hall meeting held Wednesday, October 25, at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church.
File photo by Aracelis Batista

In the fiery aftermath of a town hall meeting on Wednesday, October 25, about a soon-to-be opened men’s homeless shelter, which did not satisfy the Fordham Hill Owners Corporation, the board of directors is now seeking the help of Councilman Fernando Cabrera to intervene with the NYC Department of Homeless Services.

The board sent a letter to the DHS and Bowery Residence Committee on Friday, November 3.

But as of Wednesday, November 15, it had not received a response, according to Rachel Miller-Bradshaw, the board’s vice president.

“I stand with Fordham Hill Owners Corporation and its views on the 233 Landing Road project,” Cabrera said. “I’m disappointed that Senator Gustavo Rivera has openly supported more shelters in our district.”

Attempts by the Bronx Times Reporter to contact Steven Banks, the commissioner of DHS, resulted in a referral to the agency’s press secretary Isaac McGinn.

McGinn said he was researching the matter, but then never provided answers to the questions raised by the board.

The spokesperson’s office phone and two cell phones are usually unanswered and have no voice mailboxes set up, so messages cannot be left.

Miller-Bradshaw said on Wednesday, November 15, that the board expects to meet with Cabrera to address issues that were unresolved at the town hall meeting.

Cabrera’s office is researching the matter, according to his spokeswoman. Board members hope to meet with Cabrera on Friday.

Meanwhile, the board again addressed issues in the November 3 letter, stating that University Heights residents are concerned that up to 200 men will be living at the 233 Landing Road site slated to open in December, but residents have not been made aware of the men’s employment status or backgrounds.

Residents expressed concerns that the shelter is within walking distance of DeVoe Park and Fordham Landing Playground, both heavily used by neighborhood children.

“We want to ensure that people recruited into shelters are not on the sex offenders’ list,” the letter stated.

The board also requests that the facility have an on-site presense to address mental-health needs, including therapy, medication, etc.

It also wants the DHS and BRC to find veterans from the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in need of housing, and offer them shelter beds and permanent housing prior to other applicants.

The board also wants DHS to insist on adding more police surveillance in the area and along Sedgwick Avenue to address the sudden increase in residents and surge of random car break-ins.

Also, metal detectors at the entrances of the entire building are requested, to “add peace of mind to the residents or our community,” the letter stated.

The board also asks for full-time staff at the site to be hired from the local community, referring to the BRC saying that 71 staff positions will be available.

“We would like to see professional and skilled job seekers from our community have opportunities to seek employment,” the letter stated.

In addition to Miller-Bradshaw, the letter was signed by Myrna Calderon, FHOC board president; Chad Royer, secretary; and Blandon Casenave, director.

Reach Reporter Bob Guiliano at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at bguiliano@cnglocal.com.

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