Proposed homeless shelter not supported by locals

(l-r) Carrion, Rodriguez and Assemblyman Sepulveda express their opinions of the proposed homeless shelter.
Photo courtesy of Laura Stone

Another homeless shelter is planned for development, much to the dismay and displeasure of local residents.

The proposed shelter, which will be located at 2086 Bruckner Boulevard, a former church site and currently a vacant lot just off of Olmstead Avenue, will include 90 units and 200 beds for the burgeoning Bronx homeless population.

The building will include a health clinic for its future residents.

It is unknown, however, when the groundbreaking will take place or when it is expected to open.

This wouldn’t be the first homeless shelter to be developed in the area, however, which has caused an uproar among residents and generated mostly a negative reaction in the community.

In September 2014, the former Capri Whitestone Hotel, located at the Hutchinson River Parkway service road near the approach to the Whitestone Bridge Toll Plaza, was transformed into Crystal’s Place shelter. It houses just over 90 families.

The shelter was received negatively by local residents, who complained that the quality of their neighborhood would deteriorate as a result.

Elected officials and residents alike oppose the plan.

“We don’t need another homeless shelter in this area – and we will fight this project ‘till the end,” said Aurora Carrion, president of the 43rd Precinct Community Council and a local resident for over 40 years, who spoke at Community Board 9’s most recent monthly general board meeting on Wednesday, February 17.

“This homeless shelter would be within a close vicinity to schools and day cares – and that’s not good. Why don’t they build this homeless shelter in Manhattan?” she said, adding “Another question – do you think that new businesses want to come into a neighborhood that has a bunch of homeless shelters?”

“I am very angry about this project – it’s a disgrace to our community,” said resident Julia Rodriguez, who also made sure her voice was heard during CB9’s monthly general board meeting. “We don’t need another homeless shelter next to our houses. This will not just affect one building or one block – it will affect the entire community in a very negative way.”

Along with CB9’s monthly general board meeting, another meeting was held on Saturday, February 20 at the Church of the Holy Family, 2158 Watson Avenue, where many residents, as well as political leaders, protested the proposed homeless shelter, even though the construction would be as-of-right project. No special permits would be needed.

At Saturday’s meeting, many attendees also signed petitions protesting the plan.

“I am strongly opposed to this homeless shelter coming to the area – an area that already has homeless shelters and cheap motels, which we have seen turn into places that attract the homeless,” said Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda.

“Homeless shelters bring their own set of issues, such as drug addiction, alcoholism and they bring neighborhoods down with them. However, I would not be opposed if this was an affordable housing project – but this homeless shelter will bring troubles to the neighborhood and the last thing we need is another one in this area.”

“Homeless shelter destroy the neighborhoods and family pride – and it demoralizes the residents in the area,” said Senator Ruben Diaz.

“I would be in support of the building of an affordable housing, but I am not in favor of this homeless shelter coming to this area – this is a good neighborhood and it doesn’t need another homeless shelter bringing it down and destroying the quality of the community.”

The project’s developers, Samaritan Village, did not return a request for comment.

The MirRam Group, the consultants for the developer, said that it is against their policy to discuss its client’s upcoming projects.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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