They’re stuck in the middle with — who?
A planned apartment building for mental-health patients at Woodhull Hospital will sit directly across the street from an elementary school that already neighbors a men’s homeless shelter, and locals say the clinic must ensure its tenants are safe for the sake of the students who they claim already walk to class alongside unstable refuge residents.
“Children will be going to school early in the morning when these people are wandering the streets,” said Martha Jackson, who lives near the hospital, during a public forum about the building on Thursday. “What’s going to happen to these kids?”
The new building will bookend PS 59 at Throop and Park avenues with the shelter on Myrtle Avenue, whose residents harass locals during daylight hours, Jackson said.
“People are afraid to go to the bus stops,” she said.
A hospital advocate sympathized with frustrations about the shelter, but said the planned housing is a completely different situation — the project will provide patients with the resources and support they need to stay healthy and off the streets, he said.
“It’s about taking the people in the community that need help and providing them with supportive services in an environment that supports them as opposed to lets them wander,” said Woodhull community advisory board president Talib Nichiren.
The six-story, 89-unit building will hold 53 studio apartments for people who have been discharged from Woodhull, who will live independently in the building while continuing to use the hospital’s mental-health services. The rest of the units will be set aside as below-market-rate housing for other citizens.
A rep for the outfit that will run the building couldn’t say exactly what illnesses the residents will be dealing with, but promised the selection process will be very thorough — Woodhull doctors will recommend outgoing patients who are a good fit, and will asses prospects to make sure they can live safely under their own steam.
Hospital workers will help make sure tenants keep their appointments and take their meds, she said, but the residents will be otherwise functioning community members who will live alongside the other tenants as they would in any other building.
“They will be able to live in community regardless of psychiatric diagnosis,” said Rosa Cifre of supportive housing group Comunilife. “We’re really looking for functionality.”
Local pols also turned up in droves to rally around the project — Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Bushwick) said he is confident the marriage of housing and health services will greatly improve the quality of life for locals members living with mental illness.
“It’s a triage,” said Reynoso. “It’s everyone in here at the exact same time making sure we can save peoples’ lives.”
The local community board also endorsed the building back in November and the city has since given its blessing. Construction is scheduled to kick off next fall and wrap up by fall of 2018.
Nichiren stressed that the hospital will continue to discuss the project at monthly community advisory board meetings, which are open to the public, and encouraged local to show up and voice their concerns.