It was a hot night with words being hurled at the assistant Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, and the CEO of Praxis who are going to run a homeless shelter at 5731 Broadway. The 83 unit building was built by Stagg Developers who when applying for a 421 A tax break stated that the building was going to be Market Rate rentals. Stagg Developers even said to Community Board 8 that the building was going to be market rate housing when CEO Mark Stagg appeared before the board for the boards support for the 421A status.
Land Use Chair Charles Moerdler who has fought hard over the years to keep CB 8 the way it is, questioned 1sr Deputy Commissioner of DHS Jackie Bray, and Praxis CEO Sween Jorgenson on how this situation has come about, when he said that there has been a mis representation by someone of the building status.
The mayor has a new plan to house homeless people as close to where they said they have come from, and Ms. Bray said that CB 8 has 360 homeless people some are at the Van Cortlandt Motel currently which would close at the end of this year, while others are scattered throughout the city. Praxis as a non-profit runs scatter site homeless services and two buildings, and have answered the RFP to run another. The question then came up as to how Praxis was obtaining 5731 Broadway, and what type of people would be housed there. Ms. Bray mentioned six year old children, but later would admit that it would also be adult males.
Mr. Jorgenson said that he had a contract with Stagg Developers, but when Mr. Moerdler asked to see it Mr. Jorgenson said it was a verbal agreement. When asked when this verbal agreement was made the answer was in April of 2017 with Stagg Vice-President Adolfo Carrion Jr. (Mr. Carrion Jr. is a past Bronx Borough President). The next answer seemed to be once DHS approves the Praxis contract would there be a written agreement with Stagg.
The site is to be a Tier Two Transitional housing, and that brought out many more questions as to why it is not going to be permanent housing. Moerdler said that people in the board area are humaine, and not against helping people, but would want to see permanent housing rather than a come and go situation as proposed. He said it is the people who make money off the homeless such as CEO's of non profits then asking the salary of Mr. Jorgenson who refused to answer the question.
Mr. Moerdler then asked for a copy of the latest draft between Praxis and Stagg, a copy of the draft letter between the city and Praxis, and a ledger of salaries for the non profit Praxis. In essence Mr. Moerdler wants to know how much money Praxis and Stagg Developers (who were not present) are making off this deal with the city to house the homeless.
Above - Praxis CEO (left) Sween Jorgenson with other Praxis and DHS people sitting at the table.
Below - 1sr Deputy Commissioner of DHS Jackie Bray tries to answer one of the many questions board members had.
Above - The mayor's Community Affairs spokesperson tried to answer a question directed at the mayor.
Below - Part of the packed room of over 200 people in attendance had their own opinion of who to blame.