Diaz accuses Bloomberg of abusing federal processes for Bronx homeless shelter

July 14, 2011 06:32PM

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz has accused the Bloomberg administration of misleading the federal government and abusing the process that it uses to find productive uses for former military sites in order to place a homeless shelter in a former military base in the Wakefield section, the New York Times reported.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was set on opening a shelter at the site of the Sgt. Joseph E. Muller Army Reserve Center at the corner of 238th Street and Nereid Avenue, Diaz said, despite opposition and the neighborhood already having its share of shelters.

“Its total disrespect, total mistreatment and a flat out lie to the people of Bronx,” he said, “and it doesn’t surprise me one bit; it’s the Bloomberg administration’s m.o.”

In a formal statement, the city said the proper procedures had been followed.

“Federal law on base closures mandates that preference be given to homeless assistance uses if a need exists,” the city said. “The local redevelopment authority has adhered to the federal process, holding multiple public hearings and conducting a thorough analysis on potential uses for the facility, including the need for homeless assistance.

In 2008, a three-member local redevelopment panel — with Díaz and two deputy mayors — was given the task of determining the future of the Muller Center. They could not agree on how the site should be used, Diaz said.

Diaz admitted to purposely missing meetings in order to prevent the panel from reaching an agreement on the homeless shelter.

He said that there was a public hearing on the reuse of the center in June, after the Bloomberg administration said the plan had already been approved. The two deputy mayors did not attend, according to the Times. Diaz only found out on June 29 that the city had already filed with the Department of Housing and Development.

“How can you vote in November and then have a public hearing six months later?” he asked. [NYT]