Plans to convert a former military facility in Wakefield into a homeless shelter have been nixed in favor of senior and veteran housing.
The former Sergeant Joseph Muller U.S. Army Reserve Center will not be a homeless center, but instead will be long-term affordable housing, Mayor de Blasio announced at a town hall meeting in Kingsbridge on Tuesday, February 21.
Councilman Andrew Cohen and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz told those on hand at the Community Board 12 monthly meeting on Thursday, February 23 the controversial proposal had been abandoned after years of protest.
“Ultimately, it will be 70 units of supportive housing for veterans and seniors, and I think that is a big improvement,” Cohen said.
Dinowitz said the development was an example of the community and public officials working together to change city policy.
“When we work together we can fight city hall, in this case we weren’t really fighting city hall because Mayor de Blasio was actually very helpful, as were our other public officials,” he said.
The NYC Department of Health defines supportive housing on its website as a “combination of affordable housing and support services designed to help individuals and families use housing as a platform for health and recovery following a period of homelessness, hospitalization or incarceration or for youth aging out of foster care.”
The 55,000-square-foot facility at 555 Nereid Avenue, which overlooks the Bronx River Parkway, was closed in 2011 after many years of use by the U.S. Army Reserve.
The building remains fenced off and boarded up to prevent trespassing.
CB 12 district manager George Torres said residents were happy to hear the news after years of opposing another shelter being built in the area.
Just blocks away is Ana’s House, formerly known as the Project Renewal homeless shelter, which houses roughly 100 single men.
The facility is named for Ana Charle, a facility director who was shot and killed by a former shelter resident in April 2015.
Another shelter planned for Bronx Boulevard was scrapped by the city last summer.
“We’re really happy because I know a lot of folks were anxious about this,” he said.
However Torres said he was still hoping to get clarification as to how the new plan differed from a homeless shelter.
There are several types of senior and veteran housing the new facility could become, he said.
“I’ve not seen the proposal, so I’m just taking the word of the mayor and the councilman, but I know the councilman has been arguing about this for many years under different administration and made it very clear he didn’t want a homeless shelter there.”
The mayor announced 500 more permanent affordable apartments for veterans as part of his proposed budget in a town hall event last month.
Representatives for Dinowitz and Cohen said they were also waiting for additional details on the project from the de Blasio administration, and hoped to get new information to be released in the coming weeks.