Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not another shelter!



Father Richard F. Gorman
Community Board #12 (The Bronx)

“L’SHANA TOVA!” or, as one would say in English, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” This Sunday evening past at sunset, our Jewish friends across our beautiful Borough of The Bronx and, indeed, throughout the world, began the celebration of their New Year 5773.   

The traditional New Year greeting of “L’SHANNA TOVA,” literally “for a good year,” expresses the ardent aspiration of the Jewish people for a year of holiness, wholesomeness, good health, and good will among each other and with all people. On this ROSH HASHANAH, I join with my Jewish friends in praying for such a year, not only for them, but for all of God’s Children. May 5773 bring only peace and prosperity to us all!

Regrettably, though, 5773 is not getting off on the right foot for the citizens of Community Board #12 (The Bronx) and, in particular, for the residents of Wakefield. The hard-pressed people of Wakefield, already exploited by the burden of taking on three facilities housing different populations within the greater homeless populace of the City of New York, are about to be weighed down with possibly a fourth one. 

As all in Bronx Community District #12 already know all too well, three facilities are already in the works in Wakefield. PROJECT RENEWAL, a mega-not-for-profit (N-F-P) catering to homeless individuals with chemical dependencies and/or mental illness, has undertaken to convert a former commercial building into a facility housing 100 to 125 homeless persons at 4380 Bronx Boulevard at the intersection of East 238TH Street (Nereid Avenue). Directly across the street on the very same intersection, in the now vacated SERGEANT JOSEPH E. MULLER UNITED STATES ARMY RESERVE CENTER (M.U.S.A.R.C.), formerly a base for the United States Army National Guard situated at 555 East 238TH STREET (Nereid Avenue), THE DOE FUND, another colossal charitable organization addressing the homeless issue, is intending to operate a facility for over 200 itinerant individuals. Up the hill and around the corner to the right at 4339 White Plains Road, PRAXIS HOUSING INITIATIVES  --  still another sizable charity dedicated to aiding those who are chronically homeless as a consequence of H.I.V./A.I.D.S., mental health concerns, chemical dependency, and other special needs  -- has embarked on the construction of a facility with some 60+ units in which homeless individuals, with one or more of the aforesaid complicating factors, will be leased apartments thereby technically rendering them no longer homeless.

“ENOUGH ALREADY!” one would say. Certainly, the good, decent, hard working, taxpaying people of Wakefield have done more than their fair share for their disadvantaged brothers and sisters without a roof over the head. BUT . . . . . . “NO!” says ACACIA NETWORK, still another money-spinning not-for-profit (N.F.P.) who used to go by the name “PROMESA.” Conniving with a local developer, who has a voracious appetite for gulping up sites in our neck of the woods and putting up housing that he is unable to market, ACACIA NETWORK is looking to lease a newly erected edifice situated at 4453 White Plains Road between East 240TH Street and East 241ST Street that has some 56 units --  studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments  --  in which 100 or more homeless folks could easily be sheltered. Of course, who should be noticing that the greatest transformation occurring in Wakefield has less to do with the lives of the homeless than that that of the homeowners and residents of this bucolic neighborhood, who are witnessing the conversion of their neighborhood into a homeless colony! After all, protest our say our gainfully employed friends in the N-F-P community, something needs to be done in order to get a
handle on the homeless epidemic in New York City and to turn its tide.

I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agree. Where I vehemently
disagree with many of these folks  --  most of whom I do believe are sincere in their desire to do good for the less fortunate  --  is the fashion under which this true work of God is accomplished and how the sacrifice for it is shared.

Wakefield Homeless Facility #4 brought to us by ACACIA NETWORK is a story only beginning to unfold that requires additional space and print to tell. Tune in next week for more of the truth of this sad saga.
Until next time, that is it for this time!

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