Residents of 941 Intervale–one of a number of privately owned apartment buildings that have been turned into “cluster” homeless shelters funded by the city–were issued letters at 9 a.m. on Monday morning alerting them to the fact that tonight will be their last night in the shelter. They will have less than 24 hours to pack up all of their belongings and be prepared to move their families to an as yet undisclosed location.
In a letter dated August 18, Francis Mancini, a program analyst for the Department of Homeless Services advises residents that as of August 19 “you will not be permitted to remain in your current shelter placement at Bronx Neighborhood Annex.”
The Bronx Neighborhood Annex consists of 18 shelters (housing as many as 500 families) operated by Aguila, Inc. Residents were alerted to the fact that Aguila would no longer be operating the Bronx Neighborhood Annex two weeks ago, but were given no additional details until today.
As the Voice previously reported, Aguila has been one of the chief beneficiaries of the city’s growing cluster site program. The company collected $56.1 million from the city over the last fiscal year, and that was after a 2011 audit by former City Comptroller John Liu found major oversight issues, including some $10.3 million paid to the company without a formal contract.
That money apparently didn’t go toward the upkeep of facilities, though. At last check, 941 Intervale Avenue had nine unresolved Department of Building violations, and 12 unresolved Environment Control Board violations. The building was also damaged by a fire in December.
According to the letter residents of the building received Monday morning, all family members will have to be packed and ready to go by Tuesday, and each one will only be allowed to bring two plastic bags each to their new placement. (DHS, graciously, will be providing the plastic bags.)
Anything that doesn’t fit in the bags, such as “furniture, appliances, and large televisions are not permitted and must be placed in storage.” The letter goes on to say residents may be able to get reimbursed for storage costs, but only if they can get three estimates of storage costs, presumably in the next 19 hours.
A spokesman for the nonprofit Picture the Homeless was appalled. “They’re only allowed to carry two plastic bags per person worth of belongings, and are responsible for storing the rest! With less than 24 hours! Moving furniture and appliances and televisions into storage is a very stressful and time-consuming process, especially considering that (as the letter states) they’re required to bring three storage estimates.”
The letter did not give any indication about where residents might be relocated to, and at press time DHS had not responded to an inquiry about the move.
Send story tips to the author, Tessa Stuart