MPCA Meeting on Jacobi Proposal

Hell No! Is the Answer From the Community to the Jacobi – Rikers Proposal

By Robert Press

Over four-hundred people jammed the room at Maestros for the Morris Park Community Association Informational meeting on the proposal to house people from Rikers Island at Jacobi Hospital. Al D’Angelo, President of the MPCA opened the meeting by saying that three group homes were recently visited, and not one person from Community Board 11 were residents. This proposal at Jacobi Hospital is a social experiment that has not been tried anywhere in the city. This is bringing in a criminal element from Rikers, and who in their right mind would put these people in their neighborhood. He concluded by repeating No More, Mo More to a loud audience cheer. 

Mr. D’Angelo then invited the two local elected officials who were on hand, and said that Senator Biaggi didn’t want to come. He urged the audience to come out and vote the right people in. Boos greeted Councilwoman Marjorie Velazquez who said that this was the first of these meetings with Jacobi and the Fortune Society. To be left in the dark is not right, and that this is only a proposal that must meet the Bronx and our communities needs first. Next up was current Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez who was also greeted with a round of boos. She said there is a lot of emotion here, adding that the intent here is to approve or deny this proposal. The audience shouted her down, and she ended her speech.

The Director of Correctional Services with HHC then spoke about the Just Home which has 1,500 units of housing on their sites, and Jacobi is the only site where this project could be sited. The audience roared up again and after a few minutes it was said that on June 30th HHC designated the Fortune Society as the provider of services. Ronald Davis of the Fortune Society then spoke saying that he lives in the Bronx, and his grandson will be born in Jacobi Hospital. He mentioned two sites in upper Manhattan run by the Fortune Society in old churches that are community models, that were greeted with ‘Put the people from Rikers there’.

The gallery session was next, led by former Councilman Mark Gjonaj who was calling in. Gjonaj said that he knew about the proposal in November, and it was the wrong project for the site. He then said “I guess the new council member will move it.” It must be approved by the city council, will she write a letter to the mayor, speaker, and others that she is against the project. Councilwoman Velazquez got up to refute what Gjonaj had said, adding that she wasn’t elected with developer money. We need senior housing or a Birthing Center, and asked that everyone sign the petition against the proposal to be given to the mayor. 

The new Chair of Community Board 11 Yahay Obeid spoke next, saying that there would be an official community board meeting. He questioned the difference in number of occupants, first 100, then 72, now only 28 will come from Rikers. He added that the board will be fighting three homeless shelters again. One by one area residents came up to ask questions that all did not get answered, because there could be none since this would be the first such project of its kind. Only answers such as that would be taken care of, no that would not happen, and we will have people to take care of that. Safety seemed to be the number one concern, with concerns over the wall around Jacobi being opened so people would not have to go through the hospital grounds to leave the building given the address of 1900 Seminole Avenue. 

The question of zoning came up, since Jacobi is zoned R 4 low density residential zoning of two or three story houses of one or two families. The HHC representative said that since it was city property they could do whatever they wanted, which brought back a response, that since it was city owned property, and they would need a zoning change for this project a ULERP process would be needed. Then there was the question to Assemblywoman Fernandez about a bill A01745 she had sponsored in the State Assembly that said, “Imposes criminal liability for the failure to obtain medical care for a person in custody displaying medical distress.” I went to show her the bill on my phone since she could not remember it, and she grabbed my phone away from me, putting it behind her back. I asked several times for my phone back, thinking if I was to grab for my phone Assemblywoman Fernandez might then say I was attacking her. She said that the bill was not for correction facilities, but for police departments only, and handed me my phone back. 

Assemblywoman Fernandez then disappeared saying that she had another event to go to, as more questions were being asked of the panel. Al D’Angelo ended the meeting by saying “we have a very strong community, go out and vote.” Where is Senator Biaggi, we need to put in someone who will be with us. Go to community meetings, “I don’t care what they say, this is not going to happen.” He then thanked Maestros for the use of the room for the meeting.

The huge crowd that filled the room at Maestros for the meeting on the Jacobi – Rikers proposal.


Al D’Angelo President of the MPCA opens the meeting. L – R seated are two representatives of Jacobi Hospital, Assemblywoman  Fernandez, Councilwoman Velazquez, three representatives of the Fortune Society, and two representatives of HHC.


Community Board 11 Chair Yahay Obeid speaking.



Left – Assemblywoman Fernandez. Right – Councilwoman Velazquez.

Left – Ellie Epstein Director of Reentry and Transitional Services HHC.
Right – Ronald Davis of Fortune Society.
80th A.D. Female District Leader Sandra Pabon is speaking, but Assemblywoman Fernandez has already left.
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