A plan proposed by the Puerto Rican Family Institute Inc. for an individualized residential alternative for seven young adults with development disabilities at 2726 Yates Avenue has the surrounding community concerned for several reasons.
A public meeting to discuss the matter was held on Tuesday, March 6 at P.S. 121.
“The community came out and they all protested this housing,” co-chairman of Community Board 11 Joe Thompson said. “The major contention of the people had was that the building they are proposing to use is too small. People were concerned that the staff will take up too much parking, their children would not be safe around the residents, that their property values will suffer, and finally that the education qualification required by staff members is not enough.”
According to Thompson, he feels that the community does not know much about the type of facility being proposed and that is why residents are contesting it.
The home, which will house seven individuals with mental disabilities ranging from autism to severely low I.Q.s, is a three-story building with five bedrooms and two bathrooms.
“What the facility does, basically, is teaches these people how to care for themselves,” Thompson said.
“It is kind of impossible for them to take care of themselves. They cannot go outside by themselves; they can’t go to the store by themselves; they will always be under constant supervision. This is why I think there really is no cause for people to be concerned.”
According to Thompson, five staff members will be on duty at all times to supervise those living in the facility.
The Community Board, Thompson said, had no problems concerning the proposal.
“This group also runs another facility at 3050 Laconia Avenue,” Thompson said. “It is the exact same type of facility. I’ve taken a look at their operation, and it is an excellently run facility. The property is well kept. The staff is very good, and the occupants seem to be getting along very well. The concerns of community members have to do with things they have no way of gauging. To them, you bring a home like this and it will disrupt the community and take up all of the parking, but these people are not dangerous, they are not even able to go out by themselves.”
According to Thompson, there has never been a case where a facility like the one being proposed has decreased property values.
Community Board 11 was expected to meet on Tuesday, March 13, to vote either to approve or deny the proposal.
“This is a good institution, and these are good people,” Thompson said. “People just don’t understand how this whole thing works; it’s really not an issue. I look at this as a family moving in. We’ve got some problems within all of our families, but in this case you have more people to control that family than you normally would. It should be an interesting conversation on Tuesday.”
Senator Jeff Klein said his office is looking into claims made by members of the community that the area is oversaturated with these types of facilities.
“My office is closely monitoring this proposed site,” said Senator Klein. “We’ve been in touch with OPWDD (Office for People with Developmental Disabilities) regarding this location and to check if indeed oversaturation of the area does exist. We’ll be sharing our findings with the community board.”