A duplicitous deal?

Homeless housing contract questioned

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His mission is to stop a transitional housing facility for the homeless from opening at 5731 Broadway, and with time running short, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has one more trick up his sleeve.

On Monday, Dinowitz asked city comptroller Scott Stringer to step in and review a contract that would allow the city’s homeless services department open the Kingsbridge facility, citing Stringer’s authority to reject the contract.

“Regardless of whether you support or oppose a transitional housing for the homeless at this site, I hope we would all agree that there must be honesty and transparency, and that the city should make the best possible deal, and not a huge windfall to a controversial developer,” Dinowitz said in a statement.

Not only did Community Board 8 get blindsided by the proposal less than 30 days before it was expected to open, the Assemblyman said, but its developer Stagg Group continued to maintain it planned to offer market-rate rents for the 83 units there.

Even more, Dinowitz said, Stagg would move in the homeless while moving itself to Easy Street, since the developer would pick up millions of dollars at taxpayers’ expense.

That also was part of the argument shared by former CB8 chair Daniel Padernacht last week during a contracts public hearing in Manhattan that brought out both supporters and protesters against the homeless facility. Padernacht pointed to a new tax abatement form Stagg filed just days before the hearing, claiming the value of the units started at $2,500 for a studio. 

That was a big difference from the original tax abatement form filed by Stagg in January, which valued its studio apartments at just over $1,300. The new numbers would increase the average rental value from $2,200 per unit to more than $3,500.

“Under a 421a (tax abatement plan), the developer must keep the units under rent stabilization for about 25 years,” Padernacht said. “This contract (with DHS) is only for five years.”

That would reset Stagg’s minimum rent for 5731 Broadway well above current market value, Padernacht added, virtually destabilizing rents in the program.

Stagg did not return calls for comment, however, the contract under public review in Manhattan last week would pay Stagg $2.4 million per year for rent, or a little more than $2,400 a month — closer to the rental value Stagg claimed in its initial tax abatement application.

As of Tuesday, the contract that would finalize the involvement of Praxis Housing Initiatives had yet to be finalized. And despite the rancor against the homeless facility, there are some in the community who want to see the contract signed like Lucy Mercado, who lives down Broadway in Marble Hill.

“Gentrification is happening, pushing families out that are not as privileged,” Mercado said during last week’s hearing in Manhattan. Many homeless families are people who simply ran into bad luck like a lost job or a separation from a spouse, she added.

One family who was very involved with a Kingsbridge school lost their home and were sheltered in Brooklyn. Because the mother didn’t want her child to lose his honor roll status, he continued to trek into the Bronx each day.

“It’s imperative that we help homeless families in our community and be compassionate toward them and their children,” Mercado said.

Current CB8 chair Rosemary Ginty didn’t attend the Manhattan meeting, nor did outspoken land use chair Charles Moerdler. However, both led CB8 members last month to blast the 5731 Broadway proposal by homeless services, and push instead for permanent housing.

Either way, 5731 Broadway developer Stagg Group has become quite unpopular with elected officials, especially with Councilman Andrew Cohen.

“Stagg is a known bad actor in the Bronx,” he said, citing similar issues the developer has had with neighboring community boards over last-minute proposals for homeless shelters. “Now the city is rewarding Stagg.

“You’re not engaging the community. I have engaged with DHS, but it was a waste of time. It was another example of where you were politely listening, but not hearing us.”

Comments

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Jack Ira Warshaw

Stagg Group is a bad for Community Board 8. Do NOT reelect diBlasio for Mayor since he will place a homeless shelter in your community. Do NOT make The Bronx a dumping ground for the homeless of New York City. How about Park Slope?

Tuesday, August 29
Tashana

Just for the record drugs and crime are in every community and neighborhood. You can be rich or poor. Middle class or upper class they use drugs to not just just people that live in the shelter. Some might be bad but not all that is all people no matter were you come from or home much you make or have. Most of the people in that community do drugs drink and all kinds of stuff. You just don't know cause you don't know them. You have functional Junkies that go to work every day. Just cause we don't know and don't see them do it don't mean it's not being done.

Wednesday, August 30
Bx Developer

A local North Riverdale plumbing contractor working for Mark Stagg did several "middle income" 40 family houses and found out that it was going to be for anything but working families so the plumber pulled his permits and walked off the jobs.

Thankfully there is still some honorable contractors who live in this area that refuse to see it turned into a ghetto like Marble hill has become over the decades

The city DOI needs to see which ex politicians are on Stagg's payroll and which ones received "donations" from the Stagg group

Thursday, August 31
Jennifer Scarlott

Please join 237 folks as of this date, mainly Bx CB8 residents or Bronxites from other neighborhoods, in signing the petition -- "Welcome homeless families with children to Bronx Community Board 8":

https://www.change.org/p/n-bronx-racial-justice-welcome-homeless-families-with-children-to-bronx-community-board-8

Tuesday, September 5