Wallace Ave co-op concerned with F.E.G.S.

An organization that provides services to mentally and physically disabled adults has increased its presence in a Pelham Parkway co-op building without going through the required process, residents claim.

For decads, F.E.G.S. Health and Human Services Systesm has housed approximately 18 clients at 2077 Wallace Avenue, a pre-war 6-story brick apartment building. Now it seems that number has increased to 26.

After some residents complained about the issue, Community Board 11 has begun looking into whether or not the increased cluster of apartments F.E.G.S. maintains constitutes an assisted living facility, which would require the agency to get proper authorization.

“We have calls into F.E.G.S. to see what’s going on there,” said John Fratta, community board district manager. “Are these independently-owned units or are they doing this as a group home? If it’s a group home, they need to come before the board.

According to residents, the services have also been expanding. Now staff members cook daily meals and are passing out medication to groups of clients.

“In the past few years the F.E.G.S. population hasgone from marginally disabled adults to much more severe situations in several cases,” said Ronald Roberg, who has lived at the co-op building for 15 years. “the situation has become overwhelming for a building with this number of tenants.”

The company bought into the cooperative several years ago, when the building was under different ownership, Roberg said. Since then the original agreements as to the services that would be provided and the number of clients allowed have fallen by the way-side, he said.

Recently, co-op board members have become concerned that property values have started to fall because of the clientele that F.E.G.S. is housing. Potential buyers have been less willing to buy into the building because of the expanding social service agency.

“We’re a middle-class building, with an aging population of share-holders. Those we seek to bring in are questioning the degree of F.E.G.S.’s presence,” he said. “It is diminishing the ability to sell units.”

Roberg said he would like to see more staff watching the patients if their numbers are going to continue to rise.

He said fire alarms are going off two to three times a week now because unsupervised clients are attempting to cook, or are fooling around with matches.

“Their limited abilities can be compromising. That’s a big concern since this is a wood frame building,” he said. “It’s not a matter of ‘not in my backyard.’ I believe in community involvement and we should involve those who are not as fortunate as us. But it’s just the overwhelming degree of their presence that is an issue.”

Calls to F.E.G.S. were not returned.

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