Community members are planning a rally to protest a proposed men’s shelter planned for a commercial building on Webster Avenue.
Sam’s Floor Coverings at 3041 Webster Avenue, better known as Sam’s Carpets, filed a building permit to add a third level to the two-floor building in January.
The approved application includes work to alter the building from commercial/mercantile use to R-1 – residential, hotel and dormitory use – and to add an additional floor with 7,940 square feet of additional space for 200 beds.
CB7 chairwoman Adaline Walker-Santiago said board members plan to hold a rally in front of the building on Tuesday, September 19 at 2:45 p.m., before the monthly full board meeting.
She urged concerned residents, particularly parents of students who attend the nearby schools, to attend and sign a petition that will be circulated.
“We really want the parents of P.S. and M.S. 20, P.S. 8 and M.S. 80 to come out,” she said.
Proximity to local schools is a major concern surrounding the proposed shelter, most notably its location directly across the street from the large city school building that houses both P.S. 20 and M.S. 20.
The NYC Department of Homeless Service has said no decision has been made in regard to the proposal.
Santiago said shelter residents are transient and cannot be accounted for, and that it would be impossible to know if a man seeking shelter was a registered sex offender.
A registered sex offender was kicked out of a Throggs Neck family shelter earlier this month.
“It’s a shelter, not permanent housing. It’s open to anyone,” she said.
Santiago said she’s worried the planned facility would suffer the same fate as a nearby shelter on Fordham Road that is avoided by the homeless, who fear the facility is unsafe.
She also said she was worried what would happen every day at 6 a.m. when the men staying at the shelter are forced to vacate the facility.
“What are they going to be doing from 6 a.m. until nighttime?” Santiago said. “Will they be hanging around the parks at the schools? We have schools located up and down Webster Avenue.”
Councilman Andrew Cohen, who represents the area where the building is located and opposes the plan, said he has not received any update on the project. The decision rests in the hands of Steve Banks at the DHS, he added.
“It’s literally across the street from an elementary school, and that’s not acceptable,” Cohen said. “But the community board, to their credit, has proposed an appropriate alternative site. We’re not saying ‘no’ to a shelter or helping the homeless – we’re saying they are making an obvious bad decision.”
Santiago said the board has suggested another site in the area that has been previously considered for new shelter.
That site at 3600 Jerome Avenue, the former FEGS Bronx Mental Health Center, is located near the Woodlawn train station.