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Developers meet with residents to discuss shelter

Bronx Times
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The developers of a proposed homeless shelter in Castle Hill recently met with local residents to discuss the upcoming project.

On Saturday, March 5, human service agency Samaritan Village held a meeting with Senator Jeff Klein, Congressman Jose Serrano, Senator Ruben Diaz, Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, Councilwoman Annabel Palma and over 350 residents at Holy Family Church to give the community an update on a proposed homeless shelter that will be built at 2086 Bruckner Boulevard.

The meeting was led by SV president and CEO Tino Hernandez, who was previously the chairman of the NYC Housing Authority, as well as executive vice president and chief operating officer Doug Apple, who, prior to joining SV, was first deputy commissioner at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and also served as general manager and chief operating officer of NYCHA for eight years.

Both Hernandez and Apple gave an overview of their plan and their vision - confirming that a 90-unit, 200-bed homeless shelter was headed for the site to combat the city’s homeless emergency.

However, many residents who live in the Castle Hill area are not pleased, to say the least.

Senator Jeff Klein, along with the other elected officials in attendance, spoke on behalf of the residents, stating that a homeless shelter is not what this neighborhood needs.

“I am adamantly against this homeless shelter - it’s not right for this community,” Klein said. “However, I do feel that affordable housing is a good solution, and since many of the people in homeless shelters are single women with children, why wouldn’t permanent housing be a good solution for them.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I want to contribute towards helping the issue of homelessness, but the Bronx has shouldered the burden of homelessness and homeless shelters for far too long,” he added.

Samaritan Village did not reveal when the proposal for the homeless shelter would be sent to the Department of Homeless Services or the reason behind the building of a homeless shelter at that particular location.

It is less than two miles away from another newly opened shelter, Crystal’s Place shelter, formerly the site of the Capri Whitestone Motel before it was transformed into a shelter in September 2014.

“Addressing the city’s most pressing needs, Samaritan Village has developed an innovative model to fund permanent affordable housing, a neighborhood health clinic and housing for the homeless,” said a Samaritan Village spokesperson. “Saturday’s public meeting was the first opportunity to present our concept and we are committed to an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders within the Castle Hill and Soundview communities to develop a plan that provides a positive benefit to the neighborho­od.”

“Regarding this proposed supportive housing project, though it is an as-of-right project, I do think it behooves the developer (Samaritan Village) to facilitate a dialogue with community stakeholders to ensure that disruptions to their quality of life are mitigated,” said Councilwoman Annabel Palma. “We are in the midst of a homelessness crisis, so it will take an aggressive and creative approach to address this problem, but we need to accomplish this by opening up the lines of communication on both sides - the side of the developer and the side of the community.”

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.
Updated 5:02 pm, July 9, 2018
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