Mayor de Blasio’s plan for expanding homeless shelters is facing a new hurdle from a lawsuit filed in The Bronx.
Assembly member Mark Gjonaj has joined with business and community leaders to fight what they say has been the siting of a disproportionate share of residential facilities in the borough — in violation of a “fair share” requirement contained in the City Charter.
When city officials want to place new facilities in communities that are already overburdened, the Charter requires that they demonstrate that other communities were considered and to explain why they weren’t selected.
“We’re not going to allow the borough of the Bronx to be a dumping ground,” said Gjonaj, the lead plaintiff in a complaint filed this week in Bronx Supreme Court.
“This, I hope, will bring everyone to the table to look at a long-term approach and an immediate approach to where additional supportive housing can be built — and not pick on any one borough.”
The lawsuit notes that the city has failed to publish a ratio of residential beds to population for each community since 2003, despite a requirement to do so.
The complainants compiled their own figures using publicly available data to conclude that The Bronx has the highest number of homeless and mental health beds in the city per capita.
They are asking a judge to require the city to issue a beds-to-population measure annually, and to prevent the placement of new residential facilities in The Bronx unless officials comply with the fair share rules.
The mayor plans to create 90 new permanent homeless shelters across the boroughs over the next five years, but with a higher proportion slated for The Bronx.
That’s in order to consolidate scattered apartment units known as “cluster sites” that currently house many of the homeless.
“Neighborhoods now home to most of the cluster sites, which are concentrated in the Bronx and Central Brooklyn, should expect new high-quality shelters to open in their communities as the city ends the use of cluster sites in those neighborhoods,” says de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide on Homelessness” plan from February 2017.
A City Hall spokeswoman said the mayor’s plan calls for replacing a haphazard homeless system with one that’s both more equitable and also keeps families closer to the homes they’ve lost.
“We believe the most fair and effective way to help homeless families get back on their feet is by offering them the opportunity to be…