Categorized | Bronx Neighborhoods

Residents of Morris Park voice their outrage at a proposed housing unit for formerly incarcerated

Audience members boo a speaker at the public hearing on the 29th September. Francesca Tiana for The Bronx Ink.

Several hundred residents of Morris Park and Indian Village gathered at a public hearing Thursday night to express their outrage at Just Home – a proposed affordable housing unit for formerly homeless or incarcerated people with serious or terminal illnesses.

Representatives from NYC Health and Hospitals and from the Fortune Society, a non-profit organization who is co-developing the project alongside NYC H&H, attended along with the residents.

 “I am worried that Just Home residents are free to roam wherever they want,” said Robert Press, author of the Bronx Chronicle.

According to NYC Health and Hospitals, patients referred by Correctional Health Services to Fortune for Just Home will be primarily those cared for by its Geriatric and Complex Care Service.

“These patients are medically complex individuals who are typically housed in the Rikers Island infirmaries,” according to a flier distributed by NYC Health & Hospitals.

Among those inmates cared for by the GCCS, 76% had at least one major health diagnosis, including cancer. More than half identified as homeless and 1 in 10 were from the Bronx, according to GCCS data.

Members of the groups 1900 Seminole Shut it Down and Mothers Against 1900, led by Irene Estrada, gathered at 1900 Seminole Avenue, where the project is set to be constructed, then marched to the Jacobi Hospital Rotunda where the hearing took place. 

“I’m not going to get mad at CB11, I’m going to get angry at Morris Park, it’s up to you, take a stand,” Estrada said.

NYC H&H estimate the first tenant will move into the residence approximately 3 years from now.

Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernández was also at the meeting. “I stand with the concerns for this community,”  Fernández said, before leaving not long afterwards.

The residents were given an opportunity to register to speak for two minutes – more than 30 did, including Lisa DiTomasso. “You act like you are these good Samaritans. Let me assure you, you are not,” DiTomasso said, addressing representatives from NYC H&H and the Fortune Society.

Samantha Zherka, Republican candidate for NY State Senate, also spoke. “If you want more garbage in the Bronx, vote Democrat,” Zherka said.

A handful of Morris Park and Pelham Parkway residents supported the project, though they were in the minority. 

“I support this project- where do they go if this project is killed?” said  Roxanne Delgado, founder of Friends of Pelham Parkway. 

“Supportive housing not only helps them but makes the city safer and cleaner for everyone,” Delgado said, struggling to be heard over the booing from the crowd. 

Speaking on behalf of NYC H&H, Jeannette Merrill, Director of Communications and Intergovernmental Affairs, defended the project.

 “We have a responsibility to use our public land for public good, we have a responsibility to care for the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” Merrill said.

Stanley Richards is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Fortune Society and an ex-convict who once served time at Rikers Island.

“I ask you to judge us not on the concerns and fears you hear in the newspapers but on the work we have done over the past 50 years,” Richards said. “This is an ongoing conversation.” 

5 Responses to “Residents of Morris Park voice their outrage at a proposed housing unit for formerly incarcerated”

  1. avatar Antoinette says:

    Extremely insightful and necessary read.

  2. avatar Diana says:

    Thank you for documenting the electioneering by Republican State Senate candidate Samantha Zherka. Electioneering is prohibited at Community Board 11 meetings by the Community Board 11 Code of Conduct – which was not enforced at this hearing.

  3. avatar Roxanne D. says:

    Thanks for covering this public hearing. From Pelham Parkway

  4. avatar Robert Press says:

    I mentioned that I was a resident of Indian Village living a few blocks away from Jacobi Hospital. I did not mention any one of the newspapers I write for or the T.V. show I co-host on YouTube and Facebook Live talking Bronx Politics Fridays from 12 – 1 PM.
    In the new seven page handout that was received only hours before the public hearing, I mentioned at the hearing that it is stated that residents of the Just Home may have mental health and/or substance use needs but they will be referred based on their medical conditions and needs. I also said that ir is mentioned that 86% of the people incarcerated on Rikers Island are pre trial detainees who may be innocent but may also be guilty, and thay DA’s plead down cases for convictions and will only go to trial when they think they can win. I also question the funding ir lack of it for this experiment as it has been called as well as the new borough jails will not have the medical facilities that Rikers Island curreny has thus the need for programs like Just Home for those needed medical facilities for those incarcerated in the jail system.

  5. avatar Neighbor says:

    this is selective reporting trying to control what gets out. Why no mention of the couple who are losing their home due to working with the same program thats trying to put this up?


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