While residents in Maspeth, Queens push back against plans to turn a hotel into shelter, the city has been quietly moving homeless people into a motel in a residential section of the North Bronx, and the community has had enough. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
The Van Cortlandt Motel near the Yonkers border has long been a nuisance to residents.
"It's been alleged that there's large-scale prostitution going on there," said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of the Bronx.
For years, they complained that night-time activities were a blight on this leafy neighborhood. Then, this summer, the city quietly moved more than 50 homeless men into the motel.
"We had two bank robberies in the same week, and apparently, it was somebody living at the Van Cortlandt Motel," said Sima Wolf, a North Riverdale resident.
Residents say they did not learn that the homeless were living here until after that incident. The city's Department of Homeless Services tried to ease the community's concerns.
"We were assured they would be out by the end of September," Dinowitz siad.
The men were moved out, but Dinowitz says the city pulled a bait and switch, moving 30 homeless families with children into the motel.
A DHS spokesperson said it was an emergency. With the explosion of homelessness in the city, there was no other housing available.
"Who puts families in a one-room hot sheet motel with no kitchen facilities?" said Laura Spalter, co-chair of the Broadway Community Alliance.
Tuesday, a baby whose family had been staying at the motel died, and some wonder if the tragedy could have been prevented.
"There isn't counseling. There isn't medical staff," Wolf said.
The issues at the Van Cortlandt motel are just one part of a larger problem North Riverdale residents have been facing. They say just on this block, there are three buildings that are a cause for concern.
Last year, supportive housing for low-income seniors was built.
"We've been hearing lately is that people are being moved in that are formerly homeless or who have other significant problems," Dinowitz said.
On the other side of the Van Cortlandt Motel are 250 mentally ill, low-income seniors.
"It's too many of these kinds of facilities in a concentrated area," Wolf said.
After living here for 11 years, Wolf thinks the neighborhood isn't safe. She wonders how much longer she'll stay. She's among the many here urging the city to find a better way to help its neediest residents.
A meeting about the Van Cortlandt Motel will be held on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the 50th Police Precinct, located at 3450 Kingsbridge Avenue.