Homeless project divides community

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Two petitions. Two points of view. All over one location — 5731 Broadway.

A meeting set for Aug. 17 to finalize the contract for a proposed transitional housing facility for 83 homeless families kick-started the creation of two rival petitions.

North Bronx Racial Justice has organized one petition in support of the housing plan asking the community to welcome the incoming families, while another organized by an anonymous self-described Kingsbridge resident is against the facility.

“I’m in favor of the transitional housing because I do think that the de Blasio administration’s borough-based approach … is a far more humane one than the earlier program where homeless folks with families and children were shipped far from their neighborhood of origin,” said Jennifer Scarlott, a founding member of Bronx Climate Justice North.

Scarlott is working with the newly formed North Bronx Racial Justice group to gather support for 5731 Broadway. It also was formed to correct some of the misperceptions about homeless families, she said. For example, 70 percent of the city’s homeless population are families with children, and most are headed by women in their late 20s who are mothers of two, according to a flyer the group has posted around the community.

Scarlott admits 5731 Broadway developer Stagg Group and the city’s homeless services department were not upfront with their intentions for the space with Community Board 8 and neighbors. While that has created some tension, Scarlott feels it doesn’t mean the project should be killed completely.

“As our petition says, we do understand the CB8 board members and local elected officials do have to do due diligence, and they do have to make sure that there’s consultation and transparency, and that they are allowed every opportunity to calmly represent the interests of the area,” she said. However, some disparaging remarks about the shelter is nothing more than a “smokescreen” attacking minorities and people of color, including some comments posted on The Riverdale Press website.

“Part of our petition … asks our local officials and Community Board 8 members to also call out racism as its really being expressed by some people … and to say there is no place for hate in any community,” Scarlott said.

Created over the weekend, “Welcome Homeless Families With Children to Bronx Community Board 8” had 153 of the 200 requested signatures as of Tuesday afternoon. Copies of the petition will be sent to elected officials like U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Councilman Andrew Cohen.

The petition “Deny Stagg Lies: Affordable Housing Bait and Switch in the Bronx,” was organized by someone identified only as “Kbridge Resident.” It offers a different perspective on the transitional housing facility.

“Kbridge Resident” called the homeless shelter a “classic story of bait and switch.” The petitioner added that the community was excited to learn of the new, luxury, affordable apartment complex because it improved the area while providing affordable housing.

By switching it to a transitional homeless facility, the petitioner said, the community loses all that.

The petition called out Stagg Group president Mark Stagg for repeatedly denying to local leaders 5731 Broadway would be used as a site for the homeless.

Praxis Housing Initiatives, who is set to manage 5731 Broadway, is expected to populate the shelter with “consistently homeless, drug-addicted, mentally-ill, criminals,” according to the petition.

“Kbridge Resident” also cited the January 2016 murder of Adam Garcia, a night manager at the McDonald’s in Kingsbridge, as a safety concern for the community when it comes to the homeless. Arrested in that attack was Rafael Gonzalez, who police described as homeless.

As of Tuesday, 312 of the requested 500 signatures had been collected for that petition. Some of the parties expected to receive it include Stagg Group, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Praxis, and the homeless services department.

Both petitions were started on the website Change.org.

The plans at 5731 Broadway could become official Aug. 17 when the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services meets at 10 a.m. at 1 Centre St., Mezzanine, in Manhattan. Anyone wishing to speak at the hearing would need to prepare their comments in advance, limit it to three minutes, and provide three copies of their comments to the committee.

Scarlott’s group has scheduled a meeting with Praxis leaders Thursday to review the group’s plans, and to “hold them accountable.”

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Riverdale__NY

Jennifer Scarlott seems to have a problem with opinions that differ from hers. Just because people oppose crime and other things that may come along with this project doesn't make them racist. She wants to talk about "smokescreens"? Well her comments are nothing more than a smokescreen to cover up the underlining problems with this project. The Riverdale Press has done a TERRIBLE job of painting a lopsided picture of this development as solely being positive for the community. How about we have an open and frank discussion about what's wrong with this project? It isn't just the bait and switch issue either. If this project was so good for Kingsbridge, why wouldn't Stagg admit before CB8 that they wanted to house homeless families there? That alone should tell you all you need to know about the issues with this project. I'm calling on Jennifer Scarlott to specify her allegations of racism right here on this site. She has a lot of nerve making baseless claims.

Riverdale, NY

Thursday, August 10
Riverdale__NY

underlying problems*

Riverdale, NY

Thursday, August 10
Jennifer Scarlott

@Riverdale_NY, i have never said that anyone who opposes the 5731 Broadway shelter necessarily holds racist views. I have said that there are apparently any number of people in the area who do hold racist views, as evidenced by, in part, some of the comments posted online to this paper in response to articles about the homeless facility. They are there for anyone, including yourself, to read. It is vitally important to the health of our community that racism be named and opposed when it appears. It has most certainly appeared in the debate around the 5731 Broadway facility.

Friday, August 11
SJCBronx

It's not just racist comments, but a lot of stereotyping in order to fan fear. Not all homeless people are drug-crazed criminals.

Read this:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/08/17/tenants-under-siege-inside-new-york-city-housing-crisis/

The homelessness is being caused by greed, out of date rental laws, new construction favoring upper incomes who don't need that housing at the expense of lower income folks.

Friday, August 11
RiverdaleTheBronx

Riverdale & Kingsbridge just keep bending over every time the city bullies them into accepting a new project because they are from the government and they are here to help. It is almost humorous if it wasn't so sad. Unfortunately many of these homeless are homeless because of drug use, criminal activity, or mental health issues. Well, enjoy your new neighbors.

Welcome to Riverdale/Kingsbridge:

Efficient public transit: No

Ample Parking: No

Grand Larceny crime rate: As high as the sky

Smoke Shops: Yes Plenty

Greenway: No

Smooth Roads: Nope

Homeless Shelters: Absolutely

Bicycle Shops: Nope, just closed the only one.

Book Stores: None in the Bronx, sorry

Empty storefronts: Plenty - Be sure to check out Johnson Ave.

Saturday, August 12
Riverdale__NY

@Jennifer Scarlott:

That's interesting because I haven't seen any racist comments. What I see is someone like yourself disagreeing with comments that are reality and you not wanting to face such realities. That's not racism. That's just the ugly truth. There's a reason these facilities are fought by so many communities across the city, and I can't believe that you can sit here with a straight face and argue that it's all due to racism. That's just simply not true and a cop out. The truth of the matter is these facilities have destroyed middle class neighborhoods, but I suppose you're fine with that.

You continue to avoid the questions that are posed to you such as why if this is such a great idea and so good for the community of Kingsbridge, why wouldn't Stagg be honest from the beginning when they went before CB8 about what they would be using this building for? You can't/won't answer that question though, and you know why. Shame on you for spreading such lies and avoiding the facts/truth!

Riverdale, NY

Monday, August 14
Riverdale__NY

@RiverdaleTheBronx:

I don't know where you live, but I see more and more homeless people with mental problems throughout the city. We're seeing people slashed, pushed on to subway tracks and so on over and over on the subways and elsewhere, and these are homeless people that aren't getting the help that they need. The City and the de Blasio administration likes to tout loudly that crime is down, but meanwhile, we have a ticking time bomb going on in our communities with these people walking around harming innocent residents. You're free to downplay the problem, as I'm sure you'll continue to do, but that's what is out there, and the people that oppose this project, these are the things that concern them, and rightfully so.

Riverdale, NY - For a better Riverdale, for ALL Riverdalians!

Monday, August 14
Michael Hinman

Riverdale_NY, please, we are not going to attack other members. You can disagree with them, and question why they feel the way they do. But please do not go beyond that.

These discussions are about issues, not each other.

Thanks!

Tuesday, August 15
Fr. Andrew

It is unfortunate, that instead of coming together to solve the problem of homelessness in our community, we resort to the kind of rhetoric that only divides us. I myself have been guilty of speaking out of anger, frustration, and fear. I've not talked with anyone who sees the developer as a friend of our community. Everyone seems to be in agreement that the City provides little transparency when it comes to choosing sites for homeless facilities. It's just as unhelpful to classify all homeless people as dangerous, drug dealing, mentally ill people, as it is to classify all people who oppose homeless shelters as racist.

I am committed to listening to all sides of the debate, but in the end my faith compels me to stand on the side of my sisters and brothers who have found themselves homeless. The moment these 83 families are moved into 5731, they are no longer homeless. In order to participate in this supportive housing program they must be motivated to improve their circumstances by addressing the issues that led to their homelessness...at least those issues within their power to change. The other issues, including rampant greed, systemic racism, and discrimination are issues we must all address. It grieves me to see such division when the passion, creativity, and vision of all of us is needed to solve these issues. It is within our ability to drastically reduce homelessness but not if everyone continues to insist "Not in my backyard."

Tuesday, August 15
Jennifer Scarlott

Thank you for injecting much-needed wisdom into the discussion, Fr. Andrew.

@Riverdale_NY: In my view, the transitional, supportive facility at 5731 Broadway will, I hope, be good for the homeless families with children in this community who need a well-run, service-laden facility that will help them regain their footing, while giving them the opportunity to remain in their community of origin. I know the opposite from what you state: that facilities for the homeless, in fact, do NOT necessarily "destroy middle-class communities."

For what it's worth, I'll repeat once more: I have never said, nor do I think, that all people who oppose the 5731 Broadway facility are racist. I should think this goes without saying. Neither I nor anyone else commenting on these threads has said or implied as much, so far as I can see. What I do label racist are comments that you will find online on this website, should you care to do some reading, that label homeless people in the following kinds of ways, and I quote: "mongrels," "savages," "inmates," "ghetto goons from Hunts Point," "criminals," "drug addicts," "breeding females," etc etc etc. These are only some of the most overt expressions. There are plenty of others that are racist, stereotyping, bigoted, but which use more veiled language. I know that some people consider it somehow impolite to discuss racism when it manifests itself. I think that reticence is truly perilous, and wrong.

I've never known private developers to be among the world's most reputable people, though I imagine there are probably some lovely exceptions. I do believe that local officials are obliged to examine the behavior of the Stagg Group, and to ask for transparency and a robust consultative process by the Dept. of Homeless Services. I applaud the Press editorial that excoriates the city for making it so difficult to find the contract between the city and Praxis Housing Initiatives.

However, I am most interested in examining the 5731 Broadway facility on the merits. When I do that, when I examine and study, critically, what is available to me to examine and study, when I meet and talk with people such as officials with Praxis and with the DHS, when I go to public meetings and listen to the various narratives being expounded, I arrive at a position of support for the facility. I look forward to engaging with Praxis and with DHS in any ways that are appropriate, in order to help ensure that the facility truly serves its residents, and that its residents feel welcome here. And I will do what I can to ask: why is there homelessness in New York City in 2017? What is the de Blasio administration doing and not doing that is contributing to and perpetuating the cycle of homelessness?

I think we probably need to agree to disagree.

Tuesday, August 15
CelticWoman

@Jennifer Scarlott Once again, you cannot see further than your nose. My calling the tenants on my parents block "ghetto goons from Hunts Point" is because 1. They are from Hunts Point; 2. Hunts Point is in the ghetto; 3. They beahve like goons. Since YOU do not live on that block, YOU would not understand what goes on just about every day with these tenants. I will repeat it again - broken windows, thrown rocks at cars, smoke majijuana, police called numerous times, everything they eat & drink tossed onto the sidewalk and street. In the 25 years my parents have lived on that block there has never been a problem until this bunch moved in. The problem is that it is difficult taking people out of chaotic neighborhoods where there is little structure and then expecting them to behave like normal folks. Since YOU don't live there, YOU don't know what is going on every single day. Instead you preach to the choir.

Calling some of us racist when racist comments were never made is a way to justify this and make everything into a racial situation. This building is specifically for single mothers. I call them baby breeders. I don't know how that's a racist comment but in your world it is. Again, women who have zero responsibility and pump out children they cannot afford. Where are the father(s) to their children? Where is HIS financial responsibility towards his children? I grew up with my father in the home - shockingly my parents were married prior to my conception and they've been married almost 45 years. My mother didn't sleep around and procreate with anything that looked at her. But of course mentioning this is also racist - God forbid we look at the real source of this homeless problem.

There's a homeless shelter being built in the Wakefield section of the Bronx that many are opposed to. Guess who the builder is? Mark Stagg. FYI, Wakefield is predominately black. Are they also a bunch of racists?

http://www.bxtimes.com/stories/2017/32/32-kingprotest-2017-08-11-bx.html

Thursday, August 17
Jennifer Scarlott

This is how Charlottesville happens. The hate, and the looking away from hate.

Thursday, August 17
Bernice C

My family and I take great offense to “Part of our petition … asks our local officials and Community Board 8 members to also call out racism as its really being expressed by some people … and to say there is no place for hate in any community,” Scarlott said. " First and foremost we are Spanish (Puerto Rican) and my family is proudly the colors of Benetton by marriage (Korean, Black, Dominican, & Filipino). The rents in this community are quite high and people work HARD to give their families a better life. It is well documented when these facilities open in any given community crime rates go up and many other issues arise. Our 50th precinct is already overwhelmed and don't need more on their plate. Those who are defending this facility I doubt very much even live in this community so they need to shut the hell up. And I am very sorry Riverdale Press and Ms. Lisa Herndon for what I am about to say which will sound horribly politically incorrect, but I know of two families who are scheduled to move into the building who lived on my block and they are NOT in this country legally. Not the parents or the children, but they are being offered housing so that would mean 2 American homeless families will remain in the streets or a shelter. Secondly, I find it very hard to sympathize with many of them. Young women in their 20's with 2-3 children. You already didn't have a pot to piss in obviously and you have more kids after the first one??? Never heard of birth control which I know by fact you can get for free with Medicaid and many other insurances? Do they need temporary help? Sure. But not in our community where our representatives and community board, and US were outright lied to! Take it some place else. Stagg Group needs to stick with what they said and stop there nonsense they have the right to change their mind. Nothing but a bunch of Capitalist at the tax payer's expense and dubbed on many web sites as being slum lords!

5 days ago
Bernince C

CelticWoman: That chick is an idiot (Scarlott). When those illiterate 3rd grade reading fools do not have a proper response to debate an issue they pull the racism card among many others. I just looked up that organization and they NOBODIES and possibly getting funding from the city. Well the main organization is for sure. Oh oh... More politically incorrect stuff out of my mouth. Take your left wing socialist crap some place else! NOT HERE!!! We work to damn hard for our homes!!!! Our community will not be ruined any further and been here since 1976!!!!

4 days ago
Jennifer Scarlott

In response to an assumption made in the comment above, neither Bronx Climate Justice North (BCJN) nor N. Bronx Racial Justice are "funded by the city." Bronx Climate Justice North is an all-volunteer organization created three years ago during the lead-up to the People's Climate March in NYC (9/21/14). Its 170 members live predominantly in the NW Bronx, and in other parts of the borough as well. BCJN works on climate change through a social and racial justice lens. N. Bronx Racial Justice is an ad hoc coalition of Bronx residents and organizations that has come together to support the families who will move into the 5731 Broadway facility. It, too, has no funding, is local, and is an entirely volunteer effort. BCJN is a member of the N. Bronx Racial Justice coalition.

4 days ago
Jennifer Scarlott

Here is a link to the petition mentioned in the above article that welcomes the families with children who will be moving into the Broadway facility. I hope readers of The Press will sign and share it:

https://www.change.org/p/n-bronx-racial-justice-welcome-homeless-families-with-children-to-bronx-community-board-8 m

4 days ago