PORT RICHMOND — Community Board 1 came out against a planned mental health facility in Port Richmond in a near-unanimous vote at a special meeting Tuesday night.
The board's advisory-only vote was 25 to 1 against supporting Saint Joseph's Medical Center's plans to put a supportive housing facility — which mixes affordable housing units with apartments for people recovering from mental illnesses — at 108-110 Port Richmond Ave.
Residents, elected officials and members of the board expressed concerns during the nearly three-hour meeting that the seven-story facility will be too large for the neighborhood, add to the oversaturation of social services in the area and will "warehouse" the patients in the large facility.
"You want them to live in the community and not in these big warehouses," said Lisa Lattanzio, a member of the board who grew up in Port Richmond. "They're putting a big spotlight on them."
Elizabeth Woods, administrative director for Saint Jos eph's, said her group is trying to be a good neighbor and disagreed that the facility would be "warehousing" patients.
"This is not warehousing. This is federally approved housing," Woods said during the meeting. "Everyone has the right to an apartment. If you have that right and I have that right, then why shouldn't they?"
Saint Joseph's plans would turn 108-110 Port Richmond Ave. into a 77-unit apartment building with 50 of the units set aside for mentally ill patients. The rest — which will be a mix of studio, one bedrooms and two bedrooms — would be affordable housing.
The group plans to have on-site services for residents and 24-hour workers on hand in case of emergencies.
Woods said that Saint Joseph's would only offer the units to Staten Islanders, or people with family in Staten Island, but state Sen. Diane Savino said during the meeting the state wouldn't allow them to do that.
Savino, Assemblyman Matthew Titone and Councilwoman Debi Rose all spoke out against the plan during the meeting and said it's been hard to get information from Saint Joseph's on the plan. They said the group misled them earlier, during their successful fight to stop a similar facility at 78 Fort Place.
"Saint Joseph has been disingenuous. They have obfuscated the facts," said Rose. "I am really sick and tired of the North Shore being the dumping ground for everything."
Saint Joseph's submitted a request for proposal (RFP) nearly 10 years ago to build a mental health facility at the former convent at 78 Fort Place to house former inmates released from Sing Sing. Last month, however, Saint Joseph's backed out of its plans to put the facility at 78 Fort Place after community opposition and will sell the building to a developer that plans to turn it into more than 30 apartments.
Saint Joseph's has said that the Port Richmond Avenue facility would not house people convicted of violent or sexual crimes, but Rose and Savino said the state could still force them to under the existing RFP.
Saint Joseph's is already in contract to buy 108-110 Port Richmond Ave. And even though the board voted 25-to-1 in opposition, Saint Joseph's latest plan doesn't require city approval because it does not require a zoning change.
Residents have also called on the city to put an emergency moratorium on putting additional social service centers in the neighborhood.