Homelessness is homelessness


To the editor:

(re: “Keep out the homeless,” Aug. 4)

We still are battling the negative expressions by many Riverdale and Kingsbridge residents. Many believe that all homeless families are lazy, dishonest, wanting something for free. In other words, have the government pay for their housing, their food, their insurance — for their existence.

Most of the families work, but their incomes are not sufficient to pay for everyday expenses. Most importantly, let’s take a look at how children fare. We stress that a secure home for children forms their lives. How would you feel getting moved from place to place, transfer to other schools, losing the friendships you were able to make at temporary housing, and have to keep moving?

I can tell you from experience, I have gone through it at an early age, though not in America or Riverdale. But homeless is homeless! We have to put ourselves into their mental state. It’s devastating. 

My memories are not unique.

A newcomer to a new school is alone, and some children are cruel to them. The gang of schoolmates call them names, knowing nothing about these youngsters, and untrue rumors spread. They have to adjust not only to their new schools, new teachers, new surroundings, but also to people in the neighborhood and life in general.

Try to understand a child in such a situation. He or she has no friends to discuss new experiences, new impressions, the surroundings and places where you can join to make friends. The children are hungry to learn, and they need help.

Their parents leave early in the morning to work, and children are alone after school closes.

Who can give them a hand with home assignments or other activities, time permitting? Many of the after-school activities are costly. Well, their families don’t have the money — what to do?

The mental stress they have to go through is harmful to their development, their trust, their well-being. And we’re surprise when a child tries to commit suicide, turns into a criminal, or joins a gang? 

Everyone wants to belong. He or she may be at the end of their rope. 

Let’s embrace the homeless! Let’s give them a hand and make them feel welcomed!

Anneros Valensi

Anneros Valensi,


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Embrace the homeless, love thy brother and sister, fine. But why is there so much security being poured into this facility?

Why is this project start out with Stagg, with our former borough president deceiving the community on what would be here?

Why is the contract being kept under lock and key in the New York version of Fort Knox in the WTC?

Has anyone even investigated Praxis' other sites to see what we have coming to us?

Thursday, August 17
Jennifer Scarlott

A week ago, a group of local NW Bronx residents, including two faith leaders, visited the Praxis Housing Initiatives facility at 4339 White Plains Road in the Wakefield section of the Bronx. We had a long meeting with Svein Jorgensen, Praxis CEO and Floyd Cuevas, Director of Operations, as well as with Nicole Jordan, Bronx Borough Director, NYC Department of Social Services. We had a tour of the facility, which is a permanent one for single men and couples and has been operating for three years. We saw an impressive urban farm on the grounds, a large, 2nd floor greenhouse, a large kitchen used for cooking and healthy eating lessons, common areas, and an apartment. The building itself was impressive -- clean, well-designed, etc.

Mr. Jorgensen and Mr. Cuevas let us know that when the facility first began operating a few years ago, there was significant community resistance, but since then, the facility has integrated into the community, with local people and organizations coming to it to offer classes and activities. We asked countless questions about the building, the community, security, services provided, the residents, the ways in which Praxis and city agencies interact. We came away reassured at the professionalism, experience, and caring of Mr. Jorgensen and Mr. Cuevas, both for the residents of Praxis facilities, and for the surrounding communities. Ms. Jordan answered our questions as well, and for those she wasn't able to answer on the spot, she responded promptly with background material.

A large and growing group of people in the area surrounding 5731 Broadway with whom I work are committed to engaging with the Broadway facility in ways that will constructively hold Praxis and the city to their promises about the facility's quality, and help residents to integrate into the community while feeling welcome. I hope many, many people will join us in those efforts. The larger questions of homelessness, affordable housing, poverty, income inequality, and more specific questions about the malfeasance of the Stagg Group and the need for increased transparency and consultation by the city all need ongoing attention. But on the merits, I believe there are extremely important reasons for welcoming the families with children who will soon be moving in to the 5731 Broadway facility.

Friday, August 18