Right before Thanksgiving, a bombshell dropped on social media, announcing two shelters were coming to Eastchester.
Fair to say, the community did not take the news well. Hundreds of residents expressed their displeasure on Facebook.
George Torres, the district manager of Community Board 12, told the Bronx Times he is opposed to more shelters in CB 12.
Torres said around Thursday, November 21, residents found flyers on their doorsteps saying there was going to be a men’s shelter at 3240 Grace Avenue in 2020 and a women’s shelter at 1591 E. 233rd Street in 2021.
The women’s shelter is going to be run by the Bronx Parent’s Housing Network and is at the site of the former Imperial Milk factory and store.
Arianna Fishman, a spokesman for the NYC Department of Homeless Services addressed the rumors. She said no final determination has been made with regard to the Grace Avenue site, but confirmed that a women’s shelter is on its way.
“Homeless New Yorkers come from every community across the five boroughs, so we need every community to come together to address homelessness,” Fishman said.
“This high-quality facility will offer 200 women experiencing homelessness from the Bronx the opportunity to be sheltered in their home borough, closer to their support networks and communities they called home as they get back on their feet,” she added.
Torres feels like the community is being blindsided by DHS.
He is all for providing housing, but wondered why it isn’t going in other communities. Furthermore, his district has four hotels, which are used as shelters already, he noted.
“As a community, we feel we are being oversaturated by shelters,” Torres stressed. “The community is very upset about this.”
Upon receiving the flyer, Torres immediately contacted DHS and his suspicions were confirmed. He was relived to hear that the men’s shelter is not finalized, but could not believe another shelter was coming to the neighborhood.
Even though DHS hedged on the men’s shelter, the NYC Department of Building’s website, shows plans were filed for 204 beds at 3240 Grace Avenue, he said.
Torres found that Black Vets for Social Justice applied to run the men’s shelter, but its application before the DOB is in ‘Disapproved Status’.
“The only agency I know of that uses these types of sleeping accommodations is DHS,” he explained.
According to Torres, the women’s shelter site is flawed. The old milk plant is in an industrial zone and he questioned whether the city is going to allow an alternate use for the parcel.
He explained that under the current zoning a hotel would have to be built to allowa residential use.
Torres sent a letter to his board and the community about the situation.
Among the many residents who oppose the shelter is Lawrence Brown, 40, who lives four blocks away. He was shocked when he saw the news on Facebook.
Brown questioned why shelters don’t go in other neighborhoods.
“You can’t find them in Country Club or Pelham Bay,” he said. “They’re always trying to put ones where you have middle class minorities with rising property values.”