A new project in the Bronx promises to tackle two citywide problems, homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. But a backlash underscores the challenges Mayor Bill de Blasio faces in trying to address them. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
A building rising on Landing Road in the Bronx seems too good to be true.
"One-bedrooms will rent at about $800 a month, and the two-bedrooms at about $1,100 a month," said Muzzy Rosenblatt, CEO and president of the nonprofit organization BRC.
There will be 135 apartments for lower-income New Yorkers, including 100 studios renting for less than $500 a month, and 200 shelter beds for working homeless men.
"This is going to make it possible for 200 employed men to get back on their feet," said Steven Banks, commissioner of the Department of Social Services.
BRC owns the building and will use city payments for operating the shelter to subsidize the low-income housing. There will be on-site job training and employment services to help the shelter's residents.
The new model is being hailed as a potential solution to the city's housing and homeless crises.
"We've got to find ways to build low-income housing that people using the shelter system can afford, and this is the way we do it," Rosenblatt said.
As the city has experenced with just about every new shelter opening up, there is concern from the community. Nearby co-op owners say they fear their property values will drop and that the men's shelter will bring crime to the neighborhood.
"We're not exactly sure if these men, who they are as far as where their mental health is," said Fordham Hill Owners Cooperative Board Vice President Rachel Miller-Bradshaw.
They're calling on the city to house veterans, the elderly or women with children instead.
"We're not anti-homeless. We're not really anti-shelter," said one person in the community," Miller-Bradshaw said.
The city's social sevices commissioner says it is unlikely the project will be changed because its financing was based on the type of housing and shelter that will be provided. But BRC says 24-hour security and surveillance cameras, as well as off-site social services, will address the community's complaints.
"People's concerns are totally appropriate because so much of what they know is what they hear and what they hear so often is not the good story," Rosenblatt said. "We want to show you how we're different."
An advisory board will also be formed to obtain community input.
The shelter is expected to open in November, and the affordable housing component by the beginning of next year.