Supportive housing supporter has say - Brooklyn Paper

Supportive housing supporter has say

To the editor,

I’d like to respond to some of the points made by Mr. Dwyer and Mr. Grimaldi in recent letters to The Brooklyn Paper about the proposed supportive housing project on Fifth Avenue (“Foes of supportive housing in Slope fight back,” April 21).

Community Access is the development partner and social service provider at 551 Warren St., which is also a supportive apartment building. The Fifth Avenue Committee is the property manager of the building. Our two organizations co-own the property.

Concern has been expressed by opponents of the new FAC project about the number of 911 responses (they cite the number 48) to 551 Warren St. during the past year. The implication being, as Mr. Dwyer stated in his letter, that the calls were in response to medical needs and “…various crimes.”

We have reviewed our records to determine the actual number and nature of these calls. We also contacted the 84th Precinct to verify our information. For this period, Community Access and the precinct both show 34 911-related calls. Of these, Community Access records indicate almost half of the calls involved an ambulance (84th Precinct data indicate 22, or two-thirds). Eight other calls stemmed from disagreements between tenants or their guests, and the rest were requests for assistance (noise complaints, etc), or reports that a tenant had been a victim of a crime outside of the building.

Our records indicate two arrests of guests of tenants and the precinct data indicate one arrest in August. Not one of our 67 tenants was arrested or charged with a crime.

Regarding the number of EMS responses, our tenants range in age from 29 to 97 years old, with an average age of 56. Thirty-two percent are over 60. These could be your parents or grandparents. Also, many tenants have chronic health problems as a result of long-term homelessness and the lack of access to routine medical services. Linkage to health services is a principal role of our on-site staff.

It should also be noted that we have cooperated fully with investigations into drug activity in the neighborhood, including providing space for police surveillance. And by having a front desk staffed around the clock, a well-lighted lobby, and security cameras inside and outside the building, 551 Warren St. represents a safe haven for the local community.

The Fifth Avenue Committee has made numerous offers to provide tours of 551 Warren St. It is a very clean, well-run apartment building featuring a live-in super, a computer lab, kitchen and dining facilities, on-site laundry, and access to a range of employment, recreational, and training services. If anybody reading this would like to learn more about our services or tour our other apartment buildings, we would be happy to accommodate any requests.

Steve Coe

The writer is executive director of Community Access.

Decked highway needs a school

To the editor,

New housing over the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway sounds great (“Deck the halls with lots of housing,” April 28). But where are the children that move into these new homes going to school? As it is, many families must win a lottery to have their child attend their zoned public school.

I propose that some “deck space” be developed as “desk space.” Brooklyn is the world’s largest small town. With planning, Brooklyn can continue to develop and maintain the small-town vibe that makes it such a desirable place to work, live and raise a family.

Mayor Bloomberg is an active supporter of economic development and has recently made a commitment to energy efficiency and clean air. Therefore, a “green” school would be a just and appropriate “muffler” over the BQE. Eieen Shannon, Red Hook

Holy war, indeed

To the editor,

As the father of 4-year-old twins who attend PS 321, I was distressed to read about the Khalil Gibran International Academy opening in Park Slope (“Holy war! Slope parents protest Arabic school plan,” March 17).

As an atheist, I am not happy about public schools teaching religious culture, whether Christian or Islamic, and I seriously doubt that the Department of Education would permit a public school to mandate teaching Christian culture. I believe that allowing a public school to teach Islamic culture is an invitation to a lawsuit for violating the First Amendment.

More distressingly, my brother-in-law was slaughtered by Muslim terrorists on September 11, yet according to the New York Sun, the school’s principal, Debbie Almontaser, believes that “Arabs or Muslims are innocent of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Almontaser states, “I don’t recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims.” Instead, she blames September 11 on Washington’s foreign policies, saying the “U.S.A. breaks its promises with countries across the world, especially in the Middle East, and the fact that it has not been a fair mediator.”

Unfortunately for Almontaser, the Saudi Arabian and Egyptian terrorists who killed on September 11 were Arabs, and they and much of the Islamic world believe that they were good Muslims. It is incredibly distressing to believe that a New York City public school principal denies the reality of the murderers who killed so many of her close neighbors. It suggests a failure of intellect so great that she should not be allowed to teach young people.

Joseph Sullivan, Park Slope

Mayor’s good PlaNYC

To the editor,

I’m surprised to see that any Brooklyn resident (including our politicians) would be against Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC (“Taking its tolls,” April 28).

The plan, which includes congestion pricing, will reduce the number of cars and trucks that cruise through our residential streets to avoid tolls on bridges. To see the problem, just go to Fourth Avenue in the morning and look at all the cars trying to avoid the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel.

I’m happy that Borough President Markowitz is giving congestion pricing another chance. I’ve been to London, and the change from before to after is truly stunning. We need it here, and I will vote against any Brooklyn pol who is against it.

Anyone who has questions about the plan should read it at www.nyc.gov/2030/. It’s incredibly well thought out, and will make the city more livable.

Michael Freedman, Gowanus

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