Residents of a Bronx neighborhood say they feel that they have become the victims of a classic bait-and-switch that will result in homeless families living nearby. Bronx Reporter Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Another building is going up along a bustling strip of Broadway in Kingsbridge.
The community was told it would be market-rate housing that would complement a commercial boom in the area.
Then Friday: "The city calls and says, 'We're putting a homeless shelter in there,'" Bronx State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said. "That means we were lied to."
The building developer, the Stagg Group, cut a deal with the city as part of the mayor's plan to house homeless people in their neighborhoods of origin instead of hotels and large shelters.
"Why are you picking on certain neighborhoods where they're middle income or lower income?" one local resident said.
Department of Homeless Services officials said there are 359 people from the area in shelters across the city.
Some of them will be among the 81 families who are now scheduled to move in the area next month.
"There's a lot of residents that are homeowners, they're co-op owners here," one local man said. "For some reason, they may feel that a shelter around here may bring down the value of their property."
Apparently, this isn't the first time the Stagg Group pulled this trick.
"It's something that, unfortunately, they've become known for, and it's really very disappointing because they are doing a lot of building in the Bronx," Dinowitz said.
Community leaders in the northeast and west Bronx said they've long been at odds with the Stagg Group for misleading residents.
In a statement to NY1, a Stagg official did not address those accusations, but said the group "...gave very serious consideration to allowing our building to be used to help these families and children. Furthermore, we feel it's the right thing to do."
Not every Kingsbridge resident is against the decision. "I'm very happy that this is a homeless shelter," one woman said. "Homeless people get demonized in the press, and I think that this neighborhood will be friendly to them."
Still, there's worry about the impact of moving more families into Kingsbridge.
"You just can't make a decision…and not consider the other ramifications for the community, whether it's the schools, whether it's transportation, whether it's other infrastructure," Dinowitz said.
That issue is among many to be discussed at a public meeting scheduled for July 27.