The non-profit group slated to run a single-room-occupancy building in the South Slope fought back this week against charges the building will bring dangerous people to the area.
The Fifth Avenue Committee, which runs supportive- and affordable-housing programs, is going forward with a proposed plan to build such a facility at 575 Fifth Ave., on the corner of 16th Street, despite the grumbling of some neighbors that the group is trying to dump mentally ill, formerly homeless people on them.
Locals said they wanted larger units for struggling families rather than single men and women at the facility, which will replace a municipal parking lot.
But Fifth Avenue Committee Executive Director Michelle de la Uz reassured members of the South Park Slope Community Group at a meeting Tuesday.
“This is affordable housing with on-site social support,” she said, adding that counselors make sure that mentally ill individuals stay on their medications.
“This is absolutely not a drug-treatment program or homeless shelter,” De la Uz added. “People cannot move into this housing unless they are stable and drug-free.”
And in a savvy bit of PR, de la Uz pulled out the ultimate guilt trip, telling residents that the facility is designed to house people like Dominick Diomede, the 94-year-old man whose eviction captured the hearts of the very people who oppose the Fifth Avenue Committee’s plan now.
Diomede now lives in a Committee-run supportive housing building at 551 Warren St. in Boerum Hill.
The 49 studio efficiency apartments will be rented to single men and women who make less than $29,775 a year.
Sixty percent of the units will be set aside for formerly homeless and mentally ill people, while the other 40 percent will be rented by elderly people and young people aging out of foster care.
Most residents seemed reassured, but small doubts remained.
“We need to make sure whatever gets built is a project the community can accept,” said John Burns, a member of the community group.
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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