The community can now stop worrying about the development of a homeless shelter by Stagg Group at 435 W. 238th St. near Waldo Avenue. Now, it might become permanent housing for migrant families.
The building that was owned by Manhattan College for decades was sold to Stagg Group for $18 million earlier this year. This caused an uproar in the community as there is bad blood between the community and chief executive Mark Stagg.
As history recalls, the northwest Bronx was a victim of a classic switch and bait similar to that of 5731 Broadway which now houses migrant families. And now they’re wondering if an offer came onto his lap.
Stagg’s not-for-profit partner, Praxis Housing Initiative, has gathered a $5.3 million-year contract from the homeless service agency, which adds up to more than $63,600 per family.
It will pay Stagg $2.4 million in annual rent for the 83 units. That’s $2,400 per month.
Without much information, during Monday night’s Community Board 8 land use committee meeting, senior vice president Jay Martino of Stagg cleared the air about the future of Overlook Manor. “Nothing here has been decided definitively yet,” he said. “I will tell you that we have talked to DHS as it relates to migrant housing and families. I can’t elaborate on the unknown.”
“It’s a residence,” land use committee chair Charles Moerdler said. “It is very different — from a shelter — one is in an out and another one is families at the home.”
He continued to explain that he came to the U.S. as a migrant and a refugee. He said he has a bias towards the topic. “The government was not as forthcoming in those days as it is today,” Moerdler continued.
One participant who migrated from Ukraine on zoom exclaimed she doesn’t see the difference between a shelter and migrant housing.
Barbara Sachs, a Waldo Gardens tenant at 3800 Waldo Ave., asked the land use committee if this was a “money decision.” However, money that involved the federal government is over CB8’s head, he said.
There were approximately 40 participants in the hybrid meeting.
One participant was Waldo Gardens attorney Andrew Stern who allegedly “raised his hand” along with other residents but was ignored.
In an email sent to The Riverdale Press from Stern, some of their questions were listed.
Stern asked questions concerning the migrants, police and if there would be security guards.
CB8 “gave plenty of time to SAR (regarding its high school expansion) — attended in person — so why didn’t you do the same for us. If this was across the street from any of your board members, we are sure you would have taken a more serious approach,” the email stated.
Although, some residents saw this coming since there is little transparency.
Councilman Eric Dinowitz, who was at the Waldo meeting, said in his experience when motels were being used as migrant shelters, they had very little notice.
Earlier this week migrants from the Texas border were seen hopping off Port Authority buses carry thousands of migrants, the New York Daily News reported.
Interestingly enough, when Ellis Island was taking in migrants it was half of what it is today, according to statueofliberty.org.
As many as 10,000 migrants per day were entering New York City. Now as calculated by a month, more than 100,000 migrants arrived to the city since the Spring.
The news comes days after Waldo Garden hosted its own meeting against the idea of a homeless shelter over Zoom, which at one point had 180 participants.
“Stagg never responds, they have no representation here tonight and it was communicated that they don’t want to be yelled at,” said Mitch Kauffman, a resident of Waldo Gardens. “Well, if they were had a great thing going on. They’d be here and be proud to say what they’re doing — but they’re not.”
Those participants were not even someone from Stagg even though he was invited.
“This isn’t a land-use item that comes before the council,” the Councilman said. “I unfortunately don’t have veto power over this site, there is no vote over this.”
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and the councilman claimed their arms are tied because the transaction was between two entities. The most they can do is discuss with each other and with Stagg.
“I used to feel safe walking around Riverdale, and now I don’t have that sense of feeling,” said Mohammed Baksh, a tenant of 3800 Waldo Ave.
He continued to say that when a homeless shelter opens “lots of changes take place.”
He was referring to the family shelter near Shop & Stop at 5731 Broadway. He blamed a house robbery on the shelter.
Tenants of Waldo Gardens on 3800 Waldo Ave. and of The Waterford at 3816 Waldo Ave. shared their safety concerns. Most relied on the elected officials to help them change Stagg’s mind, as they remained helpless.
Yet, the councilman was not pleased with Baksh’s comments and interrupted the tenant.
“I appreciate those of you who are speaking about ways to move forward but I can’t be a part of a meeting where we are categorizing every homeless person as a criminal and every criminal as a homeless person,” the councilman said.
The councilman was then under attack for interrupting.
“I understand how everybody is feeling, but nobody understands that this is in our own backyard,” said board president Joan Kaufman. “It’s across the street from our building.”
Baksh said New York City is big. Why come to Waldo Avenue?
And the community continues to put the blame onto Manhattan College who sold the dorm.