A men’s shelter opened in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, but community members say they’ve been fighting against it for years and claim it happened under the radar amid broken promises.
A joint statement by elected officials says a promise was made to them by the Department of Homeless Services that the 150-person male shelter would not open at that location. They also say they did not receive a courtesy call that it was going to open.
The Department of Social Services told News 12 that it cannot confirm specific locations being used as shelters because the address of where Social Service recipients live is protected by state law. They did issue a statement that said in part:
“At DSS, we’re continuing to implement tiered strategies and proactive initiatives to combat COVID-19, protect the New Yorkers who we serve, and ensure anyone who needs it is connected immediately to care or to isolation, and the use of commercial hotels is central to this work.”
While the building in question is not a hotel, it is big enough to accommodate social distancing if needed during these times.
“By using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse just shows their shared apathy towards the residents of the community we represent,” says Dr. Michael Burke, the first vice chairman of Community Board 12.
In the joint statement, officials said in part:
“We are outraged that the placement of homeless residents is being undertaken with such a callous disregard for the people involved. Our Wakefield community already carries a disproportionate share of our civic responsibility to take care of vulnerable populations, with several other DHS facilities in the immediate vicinity of 4747 Bronx Blvd., including a men’s shelter housing over 100 residents at 4380 Bronx Blvd. and another planned facility at White Plains Road, all located within a one-mile radius.”