CB 11 Public Hearing on Just Home

Community Board 11 Public Hearing on the Just Home Proposal by the NYCHHC

By Robert Press

This was a public hearing to listen to what the people of Community Board 11 and others had to say on the proposal of the NYCHHC to house people from Rikers Island at Jacobi Hospital who HHC selects as medically compromised with no concern about what crimes they may have been convicted of doing. People like myself arrived at the site of the public hearing one hour before the meeting because we were told only four-hundred people would be allowed into the six-hundred seat auditorium. A security car drove by to say that the doors would be opened at seven PM, which was when the meeting was to begin. After two calls to the Jacobi Hospital administration, the doors were open to the public at 6:45 PM. 

The first speaker was Ms. Jeanette Merrill of the NYCHHC to briefly explain Just Home. Stanley Richards of the Fortune Society was next to give a brief description of the Fortune Society’s fifty-five years of service, and very briefly what their goal was for Just Home. The next speaker was the only elected official Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez who really didn’t say much, just that she had to run somewhere. 

I was the first public speaker and I questioned the NO-Bid contract given to the Fortune Society by the NYCHPD who chose the Fortune Society to run this program. (We would find out much more later about the Fortune Society from a landlord who had a Fortune Society recommended tenant ruin his house, make his and his families lives a living hell, and how the Fortune Society uses its muscle with certain elected officials to get what it wants). I requested that HHC send a representative to the monthly Community Board 11 District Service Cabinet meeting for a monthly update on Just Home, and meet quarterly with the Housing Committee or a Working Group set up by CB 11. I made reference to certain items I had read in the seven page handout received only a few hours before the meeting. There would have to be a ULERP process by either HHC or the Fortune Society who was leasing the site from HHC. The part about residents of Just Home may have Mental Health or Substance use needs, only 10% will come from the bronx with no number of how many, if any people will come from CB11, eighty-six percent of the people incarcerated on Rikers Island are pre-trial detainees, the Just Home tenants will be free to roam the community, use mass transit, and have unchecked visitors. The fact that the total budget is not in place, as it states over the next several months Fortune will develop its financial plan and fundraise for the project. 

One by one thirty speakers came up, with those against the Just Home project giving various reasons why they are against it. The reasons were safety, Jacobi Hospital is already overburdened, understaffed, the lack of knowledge of what crimes were committed by those in the Just Home program, the fact that the people would be allowed to roam the neighborhood freely looking at the homes around the hospital area, why can’t the building be converted to serve the elderly in the community, or other uses were discussed. Of the five people who spoke in favor of the Just Home proposal two said they do not live in CB 11, with one sitting with the Jacobi Hospital people. They and one other in favor seemed to be goading the people against Just Home to bring out the anger in them so Mr. Michael Kaess also in favor of Just Home could film the anger making appear that the crowd was continuously rude and disruptive. 

The highlight of the night came when Rodrick Compass spoke. He said he rented out an apartment in his home to a referral from the Fortune Society. Mr. Compas complained to the Fortune Society that the placement of their tenant was not working out, but it fell on deaf ears. The tenant was being abuse, breaking things, and not listening to Mr. Compass on matters concerning the building. He said that the Fortune Society still has not answered him from three years ago, photos were displayed of the damage to his home, he said his wife was sexually abused, his family lived in terror because of the power the Fortune Society has with certain elected officials naming Congressman Gregory Meeks as one, that the Fortune Society is worse than the mob, and needs to be stopped. He mentioned that the Fortune Society sued Macy’s and Target receiving four million dollars when the two chains refused to hire Fortune Society referrals, and how could they do such terrible things to a family of four? When I asked Mr. Richards of the Fortune Society if he had anything to answer Mr. Compass’s charges, all Mr. Richards would say is ‘No Comment’.



The crowd of over three hundred people. Stanley Richards of the Fortune Society looks at the camera from the front row, with Jeanette Merrill of HHC next to him.


Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez didn’t even take her coat off as she ran out, or returned when I mentioned that while the public first learned about Just Home at the end of June, Assemblywoman Fernandez received the power point presentation March 1, 2022. 



While almost all of the speakers were against the Just Home project at Jacobi Hospital, Michael Kaess spoke in favor of putting ex cons at Jacobi Hospital no matter what crimes they may have committed. 


Patrick McManus speaks against the Just Home project at Jacobi Hospital. In the background is Michael Kaess filming the entire meeting for anything he could use to bolster his campaign to place criminals in Jacobi Hospital.




Republican Elections Commissioner for: Bronx County, Gino A. Marmorato was very direct in why he was in opposition to the Just home project at Jacobi Hospital.

The highlight of the night came when Rodrick Compass spoke of renting an apartment to a referral from the Fortune Society three years ago. In that time his family was put through a living hell because the Fortune Society refused to answer for the tenant they placed in Mr. Compass’s building. Mr. Compass asks Fortune Society Stanley Richards if he has any answers now, but both Richards and Merrill from HHC refused to say anything. 



Jeanette Merrill of HHC seems to be concerned that her photo is being taken after Mr. Richards was confronted by Mr. Compass of what the Fortune Society did to his family and building. Stanley Richards trying to shake off what just transpired with Mr. Compas would leave a few minutes later.  
Print Friendly, PDF & Email