Letter: Just Home opposition is fueled by ‘misinformation and fear’

just home meeting jacobi
Residents at a Morris Park Community Association meeting on July 19 spoke resoundingly in opposition to the proposed Just Home project.
Photo Aliya Schneider

To the Editor,

On July 19 at Maestro’s Caterers, a loud, rude, and angry crowd made their opposition to “Just Home” loud and clear. The two elected officials confronted by this crowd at this meeting went along with the crowd’s opposition and their demands even before Fortune Society, the project developer, and NYC Health and Hospital made their presentation and answered any questions, which were few.

Deep down, I believe many among this crowd would come to the assistance of someone in immediate need or danger, yet some of their underlying racist and classist undertones voiced would cast doubts on my belief.  Much of their vitriol is fueled by a campaign of misinformation and fear for political expediency by opportunists filling the leadership voids.

Jacobi Hospital’s ‘Just Home’ seeks to house formerly jailed with medical needs, but residents say ‘criminals’ not welcome

Just Home is not proposing a jail or a shelter. Its proposal is to develop an unused building on Jacobi Hospital’s campus for permanent supportive housing, consisting of about 70 studios each with a bathroom and kitchen. The eligible clients will be formerly incarcerated from Rikers Island with complex medical needs, like stage-4 cancer, end-stage renal disease and congestive heart failure. A few studios will be set aside for affordable housing with first preference to Community Board 11 residents.

Several of these opponents were also against Destination Tomorrow, a supportive housing program, located at 2134 Barnes Ave., on Pelham Parkway to support victims of sexual violence and sex trafficking in the LGBTQ community. These same opponents stated the children in the school across the street would be targeted and there would be open prostitution. In fact, this supportive housing keeps their clients safe from sex trafficking and has provided its space for community meetings. Fortune Society has provided programs and space for its surrounding community in Harlem and would do so as well for the community surrounding Jacobi Hospital.

The lack of leadership from the community board and our elected officials has opened the door to misinformation and to fear mongering with innuendos of threats. The vice chair of CB11 posted on its official agency page that they should get the addresses of the Health and Hospitals board of directors and visit their homes. Board members have stated and posted inaccurately that it will be a homeless shelter and a jail with no curfews. Others residents started a “no dumping in the Bronx” narrative, yet CB11 is one of the few districts with no open homeless shelter and less than 75 affordable units built — over the last 10 years — in the Pelham Parkway and Morris Park community. CB11 has not borne its fair share.

Whatever crimes these eligible clients committed, they served their punishment and need medical assistance. As one community board member stated in the meeting, “they have one foot in the grave.”  They need help and if not in a hospital complex then where do they go?

The board will hold its first official meeting on this Just Home proposal online on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 6:30 p.m. The community board requires the public to register to speak 36 hours in advance. Call or email CB11 to RSVP at (718) 892-6262, ckirka@cb.nyc.gov or hlasky@cb.nyc.gov.

Contact FriendsOfPelhamParkway@gmail.com if you fee the board is not cooperating. You do not need to state if you are supportive or not of the proposal to register to speak.

Roxanne Delgado

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