Shelter Meeting at St. Helena Church
By Robert Press
Just four days after a very successful rally by Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. against a proposed men's homeless shelter in front of 2008 Westchester Avenue, State Senator Luis Sepulveda, Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, and Department of Homeless Services Assistant Commissioner Annabel Palma attempted to hold another meeting to try to foster support for the men's shelter.
Senator Sepulveda had a table on the stage with a few people who he thought were going to support the men's shelter, but one by one they walked off the stage stating that they were against the proposed men's shelter. There were signs in the audience opposing the men's shelter, a few that were confiscated by a woman wearing a Sepulveda shirt who put them behind the stage.
Senator Sepulveda and Assistant Commissioner Palma kept saying that the men's shelter was "As of Right", a term used to say that a building owner can do whatever they wanted with their building. Assemblywoman Reyes stated that the community board had approved the site. Palma went on to say that cots were to be set up for the homeless men, with limited bathroom space. Because of that the building could not be used as a family shelter that was asked by a few people.
Beverly Roberts one of the people seated on stage Sepulveda and Reyes thought would support them on the men's shelter said she is opposed to a men's shelter being placed in a community of families, seniors, and single mothers. She added that she is outraged that the mayor did not come to the Parkchester community.
Dr. Reid the Executive Director of the very successful Charter School for Excellence said that democracy has failed the people. She added the city is giving Samaritan Village which has a bad track record a site by three schools, a senior center, and a public library.
Members of Sepulvedas staff went on to the steps of the stage as to protect those left on the stage as chants of "No Shelter, No Shelter" were heard. Senator Sepulveda said that if the crowd did not quiet down that he would end the session. A continuous line of speakers said they were opposed to the men's shelter, and many left to go the the charter school to continue with plans to oppose the men's shelter.Photo 6 – Parkchester NAACP President Beverly Roberts voices her opposition to the men's shelter.Photo 5 – Staff stands between the crowd and those on stage.
Photo 5 – Staff stands between the crowd and those on stage.
Photo 7 – Dr. Reid of the Charter School for Excellence questions Assistant Commissioner Palma as Assemblywoman Reyes and Senator Sepulveda look on.Photo 3 – Assistant DHS Commissioner Palma speaking to the audience as Senator Sepulveda looks on.Photo 1- Members of the audience with signs opposing the men's shelter.