A proposal for a new housing development that would assist individuals living with HIV is stirring a reaction in Wakefield.
Community Board 12 received the proposal from supportive housing agency Comunilife, who is looking to build at 4747 Bronx Boulevard between Wakefield Avenue and East 242nd Street.
It would serve as a supportive home for people suffering from HIV for a period of 3 to 6 months.
The unit would house approximately 90 people at a time.
The area is currently zoned manufactoring, which doesn’t allow residential housing.
However, Comunilife will be partnering with the city in this new development, and as a result may be able to avoid the zoning issue by deaming the site a ‘hotel’ because it will be a transitory residence.
By changing the occupancy from warehouse to hotel, and administering some renovations, the new development would be possible, according to sources.
“I think the city is being cute trying to convert the space to a transitory hotel,” said George Torres, district manager of Community Board 12, “They are warehousing people basically, and taking advantage of loopholes.”
Torres says he isn’t against giving people a place to sleep, but he does oppose the potential new site because of the over abundance of shelters already in the area, and because of the transitory nature of the building, which would bring new people into the neighborhood every few months.
“Here HRA is doing exactly what DHS does, and I have a problem with that,” said Torres, who has reached out to HRA to disscuss the city’s policy on the matter.
“If this community doesn’t qualify for a fair share then I have no idea what does. Less than a mile away there is probalby more than five DHS facilities.”
Torres has requested an audit from the Department of Buildings.
The Wakefield Taxpayers Association is also against the development because of the over saturation of shelters in the area.
This potential development comes at the heels of Borough President Ruben Diaz’s State of the Borough speech, which emplored citizens to be empathetic, and welcome supportive housing in their communities rather than turn them away.
“Aside from everything else.. you shouldn’t be putting people with HIV, with compromised immune systems, into a manufactoring district,” said Torres, “I’m interested in publically shaming the city, this is not the right way to go about it.”
The building is not yet in contract.