The Mark Gjonaj Show

It was billed as a 1400 Blondell Avenue Town Hall meeting. Above that on the flyer were photos of Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman Mark Gjonaj and the logos from NYC Bronx Community Board 10 and 11, with each name below the photo or logo. Below that was the following. There has been a proposal by the NYC Department of Social Services for a 200 -men homeless shelter at 1400 Blondell Avenue. Please join us to discuss the proposed site for the shelter.WHEN: Monday February 24, 2020 6 – 8 PM.Where: Jacobi Hospital Rotunda (Adjacent to Building 4) 1400 Pelham Parkway South Bronx NY 10461.For more information, Please contact Councilman Gjonaj’s office at 718-931-1721 or

The town hall was delayed as there were very few people in the auditorium, and not everyone who was to sit on stage was present.
The Town hall began about 7:20 PM when the final member of the panel arrived. Community Board 11 Chair Al D’Angelo opened the meeting, since the site is in the confines of CB 11. He announced that the Department of Homeless Services and the shelter provider Care for the Homeless would not be in attendance although they were invited. He then called on his District Manager to provide some information about the site and why it was being proposed. 

The sparsely attended meeting

CB 11 District Manager Jeremy Warneke said the site was 1364 – 1400 Blondell Avenue, the provider was are for the Homeless, 200 Single Adult Men, and the opening date was late 2021.He then said that there currently is Zero Shelter Capacity in CB 11 for DHS clients. That CB 11 is responsible for 394 households comprised of 841 individuals in shelters across the city, however there are 0 individuals sheltered in CB 11. He then went on to say that there is no more room in NYC shelters, and CB 11 would have to provide shelter to the number homeless people who have come from CB 11, and have been placed elsewhere in the city. After going over a few photos that were provided he turned the meeting over to Councilman Gjonaj who then had the Chair of CB 10 make a statement before taking the meeting control back.

The five people on the stage, L – R The District Manager of CB 11, The Chair of CB 11, Councilman Gjonaj, The lawyer he now has, The Chair of CB 10.

There was acknowledgement of representatives of elected officials in the audience, but there was no other elected official present except for Councilman Mark Gjonaj. Councilman Gjonaj’s attitude was that of fighting city hall as he did with the Morris Park Avenue Road Diet. He went on to say that there was no place for pedophiles, but did not answer when asked if he knew what Level one, Level two, and Level three sex offenders were. Gjonaj also bristled similar questions about requesting a family shelter in stead of a shelter for only Single Adult Men. He was firm No Shelter Period. The few people who attended seemed to be very worried by what Councilman Gjonaj was saying, which was very similar to what Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj had said about a rumor of a homeless shelter going into an empty carpet store (which remains empty almost four years later) in Community Board 7. Councilman Andrew Cohen at the same time was trying to convince CB 7 to find an alternate site, even suggesting an empty FEGS building several blocks from the school where conversion work for the homeless shelter was going on as Assemblyman Gjonaj and Councilman Cohen were hyping up CB 7 to approve the FEGS site, which was also in the neighboring assembly district of Jeffrey Dinowitz.

CB 11 member Bernadette Ferrara asking for a middle school instead of a homeless shelter.

The next step for the Blondell Avenue site is a presentation to CB 11, since CB 11 is the host site. It is also expected that since the site was home to two auto repair shops and a port-o-san washing area that a full EIS of the land will have to be done to see what if any contaminants are in the soil. 

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