Plans dropped for Van Nest group home

Plans dropped for Van Nest group home
620 Baker St. in Van Nest, where Unique People Services was previously looking to create a group home for four young women with developmental disabilities.
Photo by Edwin Soto

Some community members are sighing with relief over the news that a Van Nest house is no longer being pursued as the site of a group home.

Unique People Services, which provides housing and support for individuals with developmental disabilities, previously presented a plan to Community Board 11 to use a two-family house at 620 Baker Street as a group home for four young women.

The organization has since notified the community board that they are not pursuing the site as the location for the group home. The reason is Unique People Services was out-bid on the house, said Sonji Phillips, director of developmental disability services.

Unique People Services is still seeking a home for the women in the Bronx, said Phillips, and there are several properties they are considering in neighborhoods including Woodlawn and Parkchester.

Board member and Van Nest resident Linda White said she was very happy to hear that the Van Nest house will not be used as a group home for Unique People Services, although she is concerned about who else might have bought it.

She opposed the Van Nest location for the group home because the neighborhood is in flux right now, and the neighborhood association is working very hard to strengthen the community.

“We’re trying to build it back up,” said White. “It’s still a work in progress.”

She wants to see homes bought by families who have a stake in the community and care about beautifying the neighborhood, as opposed to a group home that will have a staff coming and going who are not invested in the area.

“I’d just rather see families with kids there,” she said.

Another board member and nearby Morris Park resident Al D’Angelo said he opposed the group home because it would not serve local residents.

“Every time a group home comes in I ask the same question: where are they from?” said D’Angelo.

While he said he would support group homes who serve disabled residents from board 11 neighborhoods, the women from Unique People services were from other parts of the city.

Because Morris Park is safe and Bronx real estate is relatively inexpensive, D’Angelo said the board is inundated with requests to put group homes and other services in the area.

“It’s not our job to care for people from Brooklyn or Staten Island,” D’Angelo said. “Every neighborhood should take care of their own.”

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at

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