Homeless project set to open in University Heights

Homeless project set to open in University Heights
Community News Group/Arthur Cusano

As Mayor de Blasio’s $62.8 million homeless project prepares for occupancy at 233 Landing Road in University Heights, area residents feel frustrated in their attempts to get answers from elected officials about its anticipated impact to the neighborhood.

The Landing Road Residence will be the first project created under the mayor’s HomeStretch Program, according to the New York Housing Conference website.

With 135 permanent units and a 200-bed transitional shelter, the project will offer 111 studios for single adults earning no more than $21,175 annually, seven one-bedroom units for households of two earning no more than $34,550 annually, 17 two-bedroom units for families of three earning no more than $46,620 annually, and one superintendent unit.

The point of contention for the Fordham Hill Oval Owners Association is who will occupy the 200-bed shelter.

Officers of the association board have been told men only, but NYHC claims the residents will be working homeless single adults.

“We are demanding Commissioner Steven Banks (NYC Department of Homeless Services) and Deputy Commissioner David Neustadt (NYC Human Resources Administration) to meet with us in person and look us in the eyes and say, ‘Why are you bringing 200 plus not working, homeless men over near us and we’re getting the runaround?’” Rachel Bradshaw, FHOOA vice president, told the Bronx Times.

While Bradshaw acknowledged that de Blasio appointed Banks to help solve the homeless epidemic in New York City, she was upset that “as the largest privately financed cooperative in NYC, and a staple in the community for 72 years,” that FHOOA was not consulted before construction was approved.

The residents of the 1,100 units, nine building coop sought assurances that their safety would not be jeopardized.

“We are having a huge town hall in September,” Bradshaw said. “We want Muzzy Rosenblatt, executive director of the Bowery Residents Committee, to come and face shareholders.”

The association board is against the shelter housing 200-plus homeless men, but would entertain having Vietnam veterans, domestic-abuse survivors and single mothers living there, according to Bradshaw.

The BRC will provide on-site security around the clock, according to Matthew Borden, assistant commissioner of government affairs, DHS.

The BRC plans to hire 46 staff members with security functions, all of whom will be New York State-licensed security guards, according to Borden, who provided this information via e-mail to FHOOA officers.

He added that 69 security cameras have been installed inside and outside of the building to monitor both the transitional shelter and permanent residences.

Borden wrote, “Recordings will be made available to authorities in the event that arrests or prosecution are warranted.”

Board officers said they had a “productive” meeting with Congressman Adriano Espaillat on Friday, August 18, at Fordham Hill, according to Blake.

They have also been trying to get a meeting with Assemblyman Victor Pichardo.

City officials met with FHOOA board members on Monday, June 26 to discuss the facility, according to Isaac McGinn, press secretary for the DHS.

“Our assistant commissioner of Government Affairs Matthew Borden, DHS Bronx Borough director Nicole Jordan, Council Member (Fernando) Cabrera, and David Tatum, chief program officer at BRC, the not-for-profit service provider that will be operating this facility, met with coop board members to discuss the facility,” McGinn said in an email to the Bronx Times Reporter.

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