Bronx shelter incites community protest

September 01, 2009 11:55AM

Bronx residents are enraged over a new homeless shelter in Westchester Square. The city Department of Homeless Services began moving homeless families into the new St. Peter’s Avenue facility on Aug. 21, much to the chagrin of local merchants, who contend that the neighborhood is already laden with social services programs. In a community meeting on Friday, Department of Homeless Services head Robert Hess admitted that he had not followed typical procedure when notifying the community, but maintained that mounting demand for emergency homeless housing leaves him with few options. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz has sided with the community. He maintains that the Bronx too often shoulders the burden of housing the city’s homeless. “I feel the Bronx is already oversaturated with such facilities, and forcing more of them into our borough, especially without any real dialogue, is unfair,” Diaz said. “The practice of limiting, or downright ignoring, community input must be stopped.”