Local community leaders are railing against a White Plains Road building that recently started to house homeless families, but a city spokesman said the building has been in operation for months.
Councilman Andy King led a protest with several neighborhood leaders outside the seven-story residential building at 3677 White Plains Road on Monday, July 31 to protest what he called a ‘bait and switch’ by the developer, the Stagg Group.
“The Stagg Group has built an 80/20 building where 80 percent of the residents are from shelters,” King said. “But at the first conversations I had with the Stagg Group a year and half ago they were going to build market rate affordable housing for working families, with some mixed use.”
King said he was not opposed to supportive housing, but said moving such a large number of homeless people into a building can overwhelm a building and the surrounding neighborhood.
“Because of the behaviors of whatever is happening with some of the folks in that building, we have more homeless people outside of the building during the summer months, drug use out in the open, public urination,” he said.
Some of the local business owners also lodged complaints about residents panhandling outside their store or shoplifting, King added.
Community Board 12 district manager George Torres said the board had lobbied for permanent housing but was frustrated by how the city and Stagg had handled the creation of such facilities.
The NYC Department of Homeless Services recently announced a similar building on Broadway in Kingsbridge would be used for homeless families after Stagg told the community it was market-rate housing, drawing the ire of local politicians and Community Board 8.
“Mark Stagg has a history in this district and it’s not a very good history,” Torres said. “This is like the third time he’s taken a building developed as market rate and turned it into something else.”
Torres said the city did not disclose to the board where the shelters and cluster sites are located in the district, making it difficult to even know how saturated this district is compared to other parts of the city.
“It’s unfair to continue to dump on my district,” he said.
But DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn said the community was alerted to the facility nearly a year ago before the tenants moved in, and that protests were detrimental to the building’s occupants.
“As we address the dual citywide challenges of homelessness and affordability, which impact every community across the five boroughs, we are proud to deliver high quality, affordable housing for formerly homeless families,” he said.
The building is currently home to 93 formerly homeless families, as well as 24 other households, McGinn said.
Forty-two of those homeless families previously resided in the Bronx, including nine families who lived in CB 12.
Calls to the Stagg Group and its owner, Mark Stagg, went unanswered.