Testimony of Borough President Diaz
Before the Mayor's Office of Contract Services
RE: Contract for the Doe Fund to Operate a Homeless Shelter at the Muller Army Reserve Center
I offer this testimony today in opposition to the contract before us, between the City’s Department of Homeless Services and the Doe Fund, to operate a homeless shelter at 555 Nereid Avenue, more commonly known as the Muller Army Reserve Center (MARC), in my borough of the Bronx.
My office finds the disposition of this contract to be premature, specifically due to the absolute fact that the legal process conducted by the Muller Local Redevelopment Authority, or LRA, of which I am a member, has neither completed its work nor met its legal requirement to do so.
As I have noted in the past, the submission for the reuse of the MARC that was submitted by the LRA on June 29, 2011, to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) did not, and does not, conform to the requirements of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act (BRAC) nor to BRAC regulations.
As I have stated in the past, my counterparts on the LRA have undertaken a series of actions that have greatly compromised the integrity of the process. In particular, the Homeless Assistance Submission provided to HUD—which is the basis of today’s contract vote—was not approved by a vote of the LRA in a formal meeting, an action required by both the BRAC regulations and the Muller LRA agreement.
A public hearing on this matter—a hearing the LRA agreed to hold—was held on June 22, 2011. Three hundred and thirty three individuals attended the hearing, with 30 testifying and another 20 submitting written testimony. With the exception of a statement from LRA member Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, everyone who spoke at this hearing spoke in opposition to the proposal to use the MARC as a homeless shelter.
However, it has since become obvious that this administration had no intention of considering this community input. On June 29, 2011—seven days after the public hearing—this administration informed my office that it had already provided the LRA’s recommendations to HUD, citing a vote of November 23, 2010. Not only did this vote never take place, it would have occurred six months prior to the public hearing that was supposed to have informed the vote of the LRA. Additionally, no submission was ever provided to my office for review, despite my standing as one-third of the LRA.
As of today, there was been no explanation from this administration as to why they would agree to hold a public hearing after a vote, why they would claim a vote took place when one did not, nor why they would fail to provide my office with a copy of the submission for review.
It is crystal clear that the process that led to this contract before us today was and is flawed, and that all legal evidence indicates that the City has no right to move on this contract since the LRA process has not been completed.
I ask that this administration follow through on their commitment to the people of the Bronx and return to the table to negotiate the future of the MARC, as it is legally required to do.