The Bronx Will No Longer Have NYC’s ONLY Intake Center For The Homeless; Borough Still Highest Contributor To City’s Homeless Population


Homeless families outside as they wait to be placed in a shelter
Homeless families outside NYC’s only intake shelter located on 151st Street in The Bronx just off the Grand Concourse this past Monday as Winter Storm Juno hit the area.

The Bloomberg administration spent $65 million in new intake facility in The Bronx on 151st Street back in 2011 making it the only place the city’s homeless population could come to seeking a  place to stay.

Now, the de Blasio administration is doing away with such failed policies by creating a second facility in Brooklyn which is scheduled to open sometime this Spring.

In 2014, 37% of the city’s homeless population had their last residence in The Bronx and combined with Brooklyn, both boroughs accounted for a whopping 65% of the homeless population.

In the largest city in the country — a city made up of five counties, it is unfathomable to have one borough take on an entire city’s homeless situation but more importantly, it is extremely cruel to have anyone trek so far from where they once lived.

The city needs to make sure that each borough has a center that is easily accessible to its population for such needed services.

I’ve often witnessed homeless families dragging their belongings on hours long train and bus rides just to get to the Bronx facility.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal:

“We believe that having a place that is more neighborhood-based is more conducive to prevention than having a centralized place that is far away from the people who live in Brooklyn,” said Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, deputy mayor for health and human services. “The closer you are to the neighborhood, the more likely you will be to prevent bad things from happening to families.”

The Brooklyn center will offer families help with staying in their homes through a homelessness-prevention program known as Homebase, launched a decade ago. That program currently isn’t prominently featured at the Bronx facility. Officials hope putting Homebase at an intake facility will ultimately bring down the swelling shelter population.

In an interview, Ms. Barrios-Paoli and Gilbert Taylor, commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, said locating Homebase at an intake facility is the cornerstone of the de Blasio administration’s new approach to reducing homelessness.

Not everyone is as hopeful, however, as the Wall Street Journal reports that several social services experts feel that providing easier access will only increase the number of people and families entering the system (really?) but the city went on to insist that nothing is changing as far as criteria goes on who is admitted.

All of this sounds good on paper but what does it mean for the homeless crisis our borough and city is experiencing?

At best, it’s only a band-aid on a water pipe solution as rising cost of living and rents coupled with stagnant wages will continue to make life difficult for most of our residents.

We need our communities and political leaders — our borough president included, to take care of our home base and focus more on these issues rather than rebrand our borough which is and will only continue to create a problem for the most vulnerable.

Our borough’s leadership has an opportunity to create a true legacy that will positively impact all Bronxites but only if they choose to focus on the real issues.

The Bronx cannot continue to improve on some level at the cost of others.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.