Mentally ill out of Pelham Grand

Community members toured the Services for the UnderServed facility in Pelham Bay in January. They group is now out of the building.
Photo by Patricio Robayo
by Patricio Robayo

A displaced group home for adults recovering from mental illness has moved out of a controversial Pelham Bay facility.

Locals now wonder what could be next for the Pelham Parkway building.

Services for the UnderServed made the former Pelham Bay Hospital, now called the Pelham Grand, home for 65 men displaced from SUS’s Rockaway, Queens building by Superstorm Sandy.

The group moved out by Sunday, Sept. 15 to return to their former facility.

Joe Oddo, chairman of a community advisory board set up to act as a liaison between the community and the facility, said that the operators had made good on their pledge to be out within nine months of arriving.

Yves Ades, SUS’s chief operations officer who addressed Community Board 10 on Thursday, September 19, was cheered at one point, with board members thanking him and his organization for keeping their word to be out of the community as soon as repairs to their Rockaway facility were complete.

The move into Pelham Bay had originally sparked concern among locals, who were not sure what they were getting.

“I think we demonstrated that the fears are unfounded, and that we are good neighbors,” said Ades, who thanked the board for supporting people who would have otherwise been homeless.

He noted in an interview that in the nine months since the men moved in, there were no incidents involving anyone living there.

The building had been vacant since Our Lady of Assumption D’Urso Pavilion closed. It was later scuttled as an assisted living facility.

Oddo said that some people living nearby that he had spoken to now said they were sad to see the facility go.

“They were here, and we really did not have a preponderance of problems…there were just a couple of issues that got handled quickly,” said Oddo. “We had people who were victims of a disaster who had their needs met, and it was not done in a way that was overly disruptive.”

Ades said his group chose the building because they could have the entire building to themselves and because it was large enough to accommodate all those displaced by SuperStorm Sandy .

The community had been concerned since the program moved into the building that others could follow or that it might become a homeless shelter.

As previously reported, the building owner, a billionaire head of a satellite communications firm named Moujan Vahdat, has spent years facilitating the opening of social service operations in the Bronx and elsewhere.

He owns a family shelter at 587 Wales Avenue in Melrose and another facility for those living with HIV/AIDS in East Harlem.

“The concern is that we are dealing with the unknown and we really don’t have a good mechanism for addressing it,” said Oddo. “I think the first thing we need to do is set up a meaningful relationship with the landlord moving forward so we can be of help to him and he can help us.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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