Shell Game with Homeless Shelters?
By Robert Press
BRONX– Will a homeless shelter be built across the street from a Bronx school or not? That is the question that even elected officials are asking without any answers.
The possibility of homeless men and convicted sex offenders living across from a school has upset parents and officials but no one knows the answer.
As community leaders rallied calling an end to building a homeless shelter at the site of Sam’s Flooring on Webster Avenue, unconfirmed reports claim that the city is looking into another site.
Councilman Andrew Cohen was joined by Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, members of Community Board 7, parents, and students of PS 20 in opposition to the placement of a homeless shelter across the street from PS 20 in the current Sam’s Flooring building. Cohen spoke about how horrible it would be to have a homeless shelter across the street from a k – 8 school.
Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj spoke of finding nine, level-two or three sexual predators that were currently living in Bronx homeless shelters. Gjonaj most recently held a press conference outside of one such homeless shelter where one of these level-two or three sexual predators was placed by the Department of Homeless Services which also housed families with children.
(Work continues at the former FEGS site. Will this become a homeless sheter? Photos by Robert Press)
The fact that Sam’s Flooring was being thought of for a homeless shelter was brought up at a special August Community Board 7 meeting. At that meeting Councilman Cohen suggested that the community board look for an alternate site for the homeless shelter if the board and community did not want it across the street from PS 20. At that meeting Cohen even suggested an alternate site, that being the currently empty FEGS building located at 3600 Jerome Avenue.
While Sams Flooring remains open for business, and no renovations on the building are going on it was a different matter for the FEGS building on Jerome Avenue where I stopped on the way to Councilman Cohen’s rally at PS 20.
Here at the empty FEGS building on Jerome Avenue work is going on to modify the building. When asked what was going on I was directed to the supervisor of the site who said to me that the building was being renovated for a homeless shelter.
I questioned Councilman Cohen about him suggesting the FEGS site as an alternate site to having a homeless shelter in the Sams Flooring building across from PS 20. When I said that alterations were going on at the empty FEGS building, and not at Sam’s ,which was still open for business, Councilman Cohen just said: ’from my lips…’.