by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
We've all heard of the acronym "NIMBY" which means NOT IN MY BACK YARD -- particularly as it concerns white communities. When an insensitive city government decides to put an onerous facility in an otherwise good, upscale community, the residents come out in droves to make sure they know that they're not going to stand for it. At which point, what generally happens is the municipal agency generally finds someplace else to put it where the residents are not so particular, or so vocal or so aware of what's going on.
It's probable the case in the current situation with Sister of Providence, who, not happy with already having one half-way house in the upscale Prospect/Leffert Gardens/Flatbush neighborhood on Lenox Road, is now trying to put another one there.
In case you are not aware, a halfway house is a facility that houses returning ex-offenders to the community. They live in the midst of a residential neighborhood while trying to re-adjust to living around "regular" people.
No real problem in that, per se, whatsoever. Except when you now begin targeting a community to put additional centers there. Not a good thing. How many facilities is a Black community forced to bear because a neighboring white one doesn't want it? Is our voice and our concerns just as valid as those of the whites who have made it clear that these kids of institutions are not welcome around their children and their women. Don't we have the right to maintain our community at a level of quality and safety that others reserve for theirs?
OF COURSE WE DO!!
And it is in this very spirit that Ms. JoAnn Newbold, and others in the community, are circulating a petition asking City Council Member Matthieu Eugene to deny additional permits to Sisters of Province, or any other organization to open additional Halfway houses in an already oversaturated area. I.e., one is too many and two is outrageous. Try putting that same facility in the middle of Park Slope or Boerum Hill and see what would happen. People would start a litany of complaints about the impact on their property values, and the possibility for error and dangerous encounters. Well, the same holds true in the Black community as well.
So before you go trippin' and laying your spiel on me about the victimization of Black men, the prison, military, industrial complex, stereotyping, and the rest, let me assure you that I over understand the situation. We definitely love our brothers and sisters who have had to deal with incarceration. We definitely want to see them be able to successfully return to society and do well, hopefully with no further incursions into the realm of drugs, guns, crime, etc. We need our young black men to make it to become old (successful) Black men. But we have a little issue of recidivism to deal with, which makes it very difficult for most communities to be confident that the brother or sister have learned the "error of their ways" and are now prepared to walk the straight and narrow and become useful citizens.
The sad truth is that has been most likely not the case. And while, yes, it's true that these are indeed our brothers and sisters, we also have the obligation to deal with the greatest good for the greatest number. And at this point, with so many of our neighborhoods already under siege, putting a halfway house in a residential community is just adding insult to injury. We are already the "walking wounded" trying to make it real compared to a lot of nonsense being shoved in our faces on a consistent bases. A residential neighborhood is not the appropriate place for a half-way house.
Let me say this again: A RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD IS NOT THE APPROPRIATE PLACE FOR A HALF-WAY HOUSE!!!
Interestingly enough, with all the abandoned properties HPD currently controls in a variety of neighborhoods, they can surely propose an alternative property in a more appropriately zoned area for the proposed facility. In fact, that is specifically what Ms. Newborn and the community is requesting. FIND ANOTHER PLACE -- NOT HERE IN THIS OR THE NEIGHBORING OR THE NEIGHBORING, NEIGHBORING COMMUNITY. Thank you.
They are likewise asking Matthieu Eugene and his staff to sit down and talk with them about how to facilitate and expedite this and set up some rules so that there is no further confrontation necessary.
Now, as many of you know, I have not yet mastered the technology necessary to reproduce documents in their original form in my blog. So far I have only managed to provide the HTML version. But the verbiage of the petition appears below. I will also provide you with the link so you can sign on and register your support for a young mother and resident who is trying to keep her community safe.
If you have additional questions, or concerns, or are interested in assisting in this, and other efforts to keep the Black community from being the dumping ground of unwanted programs, please feel free to let me know by posting a comment along with your email and phone number. I will be happy to get back to you, or forward it to the appropriate individuals.
Deny HPD Application to build 6 story "Supportive Housing" building
Powered by iPetitions - Start your online petition now
Deny HPD Application to build 6 story "Supportive Housing" building
We, the community of people living in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and its surrounding areas, are dissatisfied with the city's decision to change the use of the currently vacated building at 329 Lincoln Rd. We request that the proposal to approve an exemption to the existing zoning (FAR approx. 2.34) to allow construction of a building of up to 4.8 FAR - more than double the size of the existing structure - be denied by Community Board 9.
Such a building would be out of scale on this block and its size would cause it to loom over the surrounding 3 and 4 story buildings on the street as well as the backyards of the homes on Lefferts Ave.
We understand that the building to be constructed is classed as a "community facility," to be administered by Providence House, an organization operated by the sisters of the Congregation of Saint Joseph. Providence House provides short and longer-term housing for women who are recently released from prison (either having completed their sentence or on parole) and their children.
The existing building has a valid Certificate of Occupancy for 16 families. The current plan is to house 26 families in this building. We see no reason that the existing structure could not be rehabilitated to use for the stated purpose, albeit on a smaller, more neighborhood-appropriate, size. If the building is found to be unsuitable for some reason, we would suggest that it be replaced with a similar-sized building.
There are MANY unfinished and/or vacant buildings of much larger size that would be much better-suited to a facility of this nature and would cost less for the city to rehabilitate and use, as well as many vacant lots with existing appropriate zoning already in place.
We feel that this proposal is being swept by the community without the people who will be affected by it having been given access to any of the facts surrounding it, and we urge Community Board 9 to deny this application.
You can find this petition by logging on to www.iPetition.com. Then hit Home/Home > Categories > Business and Industry > Deny HPD Application to build 6 story "Supportive Housing" building.
The iPetition format is a great way to get a petition to the attention of those recalcitrant elected officials who forget that it takes voters to put them in office, and if they're ignored, those same voters can take you out. It is also a way that the community can come together and reinforce their concerns and support for issues they are in favor of, as well as those that are onerous to their neighborhoods.
I urge you to take the time to register your support in this matter. As members of the Black community, we have to stand together for quality of life in our communities, or remain the dumping ground for those other neighborhoods who have the good sense to do so for themselves.
Stay blessed &