Homeless families destroy Crotona renters’ dream home

Homeless families destroy Crotona renters’ dream home
Arthur Cusano

Residents of a building owned by the controversial Stagg Group say a ‘bait and switch’ by the developer has caused their quality of life to nosedive.

Resident Omar Cooke said he was unaware his building at 1802 Crotona Avenue would be used for homeless families when he signed a lease in October of 2015.

Since then, he has had to deal with loud noises and dirty hallways.

When he first considered the building, Cooke said real estate agency told him a large space in the building would be used as a community center, but soon afterwards he learned it would be the office for the property’s homeless shelter service provider.

“It’s my opinion that they always knew that was the plan, and they should have told us ahead of time,” he said.

Eighty percent of the apartment building’s 55 units are housing homeless families.

Another resident, who asked to be referred to as Ms. Taylor due to safety concerns said noise and safety issues at the building jump up nights and weekends.

Taylor said she was assaulted by one of the residents, resulting in a miscarriage.

She said the developer offered to move her to a different unit – with a higher rent. She declined.

Taylor is also upset by the Stagg Group’s deceptiveness, and had reached out to public agencies for assistance.

“The lack of consideration for tenants and other people in the community is really troubling to me,” Taylor said.

The supportive housing units are overseen by Bronx Parent Housing Network, which works in partnership with the NYC Department of Homeless Services.

Families are offered services that include case management, counseling, mental health services and housing placement.

BPHN CEO Victor M. Rivera said his group serves 105 people – 44 homeless families with children.

He insisted that security was on site 24 hours a day seven days a week.

“We are committed to working closely with the community at this location to address any concerns and ensure this facility is seamlessly integrated into the neighborhood,” he said.

Rivera also stated a monthly tenant meeting was held for all the residents to voice their concerns with management.

DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn said his department notified Community Board 6 when it began using the building for transitional housing, and received a letter of support from the board to do so.

“We are committed to working closely with the community at this location— as with all locations—to address any concerns and ensure this facility is seamlessly integrated into the neighborhood.”

CB 6 district manager John Sanchez confirmed the transitional housing was approved by the board in November of 2015, after the Housing and Land Use Committee wrote a letter in support of the use.

Calls to the Stagg Group for comment were not returned by press time.

A spokesman for Councilman Rafael Salamanca said the legislator has been in touch with the DHS as well as the mayor’s office to address issues at the residential building.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.