By DAVID GREENE & SÍLE MOLONEY
A resident of a transitional shelter and supportive housing facility located in the Fordham Manor section of The Bronx said a deceased 62-year-old man, who died from a heart attack at the shelter on Dec. 10 and was later removed by emergency services, had earlier reported to staff of chest pains. He was later found unconscious and unresponsive in his shared dorm room.
When contacted about the incident the same weekend it occurred, and which took place at the Bowery Residents’ Committee Inc. (BRC) shelter and transitional housing facility, specialized in providing, among other services, mental health and substance-abuse support services, and located at 237 Landing Road, an NYPD spokesperson said the incident occurred on Saturday morning, Dec. 10.
“Victim was found unconscious, unresponsive by shelter staff inside his shared dorm room,” the spokesperson added. “The victim was pronounced deceased at 5.41 a.m. by EMS on the scene. Investigation is ongoing.”
The deceased man was described by police as White. The NYPD spokesperson also told Norwood News, “No narcotics found. No[thing] suspicious; looks like natural causes. Medical examiner will determine the cause of death.”
Later, when contacted separately about the incident, an FDNY/EMS spokesperson told Norwood News the emergency services were notified at 5:12 a.m. on Saturday of an incident at 237 Landing Road. They said it involved a cardiac arrest and that the impacted person was deceased upon the arrival of EMS at the location.
Meanwhile, a resident of the shelter who declined to be identified told Norwood News, told us during a physical interview held on East Kingsbridge Road the same weekend as the incident occurred, “It happened at 3:17 a.m…. It was in the BRC Shelter and they’re not properly trained, and he [the deceased man] had a heart attack. He got up and said he had chest pains, and he couldn’t breathe. They told him to have a seat, ‘Sit down, and relax.’
The resident added, “He went back to lay down and died.” Then, making several gasping sounds to demonstrate what he said had occurred, the resident said, “He went back and told them he had a breathing problem. They told him, ‘Listen, if you go sit down and calm down… if you sit down.’ He went and laid down and later died. You know he went to go to the bathroom and collapsed. We don’t even know how long he was laying on the [expletive] floor by his bed.” The resident added that people would be surprised at what he described was “the unlimited [expletive]” that was “going on” at the facility.
Asked about the deceased man, the resident said, “He was very quiet, but if he had something to say… outspoken. I mean He was a humble person, and he let them know that he wasn’t well, and they just….I can’t believe the recklessness. They told him to sit down and relax, and then sent him back to bed area, you know? And you’ve got someone who’s there who is not trained to handle that situation.”
Asked if staff had called an ambulance, the resident said, “Yeah, but by the time they got there he was gone, and the whole worst part about it is we don’t know how long he was lying on the floor until someone else noticed him lying on the floor.”
Asked how long the deceased man had lived at the shelter, the resident said, “I’d give 3 maybe 4 months.” Asked generally about BRC, the Manhattan-based service provider running the shelter and if it was run by the City, the resident said, “Well, if you look up BRC, they get donations and the city does help. The thing of it is no one was there to offer CPR on him at an effective level, you understand? Yeah, they was trying. In my opinion, he was already gone by the time someone else noticed him….very pale, eyes wide open. When a person passes, the eyes let you know that they’re gone, because there’s no pressure in the eyes… look it up, so when a person passes, your eyes are the first sign he’s done.”
Norwood News attempted to speak to other residents of the housing facility to corroborate the first resident’s account of what had occurred but none wanted to comment.
We asked FDNY/EMS for more details on who exactly contacted the department about the emergency, what time EMS arrived at the scene, if anyone had performed CPR on the deceased resident prior to the arrival of EMS, and whether the department had been informed by anyone at the facility that the resident had earlier complained of chest pains. An FDNY spokesperson responded, saying, “There are no further updates on this inquiry. For any other information, please reach out to NYPD.”
We also reached out to BRC by both phone and email to request comment on the remarks made by the living shelter resident who said the deceased man had earlier complained of chest pains. The number listed on the internet for the Landing Road shelter location was listed as a 24-hour number, but when we called, we received a message saying the number was invalid. We therefore tried the Manhattan number listed on the website for BRC, left a voice mail message, and followed up with some email requests. We placed a further phone call and were referred to the same Manhattan number as we had previously tried, and were informed that office staff would be back on the Monday following the incident to respond. We have tried to reach the facility again and as yet have not received a response.
When asked if police could confirm if it had been reported by the shelter staff that the resident had complained of chest pains earlier on Dec. 10, a police spokesperson replied, “It does not say that on this report.” When we later contacted the NYPD advising that we had been referred to them by the FDNY in relation to our follow-up questions on the response, an NYPD spokesperson replied, saying, “Do not know why you were referred here for questions that are for the FDNY. We cannot answer any of the questions.”
According to public tax records for “BRC Landing Road I Housing Development Fund Corporation,” a 501(c4) entity, “BRC is a major provider of housing for people with a history of homelessness. It operates units of permanent housing. Residents have signed leases and tenancy rights. These apartments are dedicated for formerly homeless individuals with a history of mental illness and/or substance abuse. Our permanent housing programs are a key resource for graduates of BRC Safe Haven, shelter and transitional housing programs, and often serve as the appropriate next step for housing.”
According to a 2018 990 tax form filed in respect of BRC Landing Road I Housing Development Fund, this particular entity did not receive any government grants that year. It earned $1,857,708 in rental income in 2018 along with miscellaneous income of $140,970. However, it appears from separate tax filings that BRC parent company does receive financial support from the government.
According to BRC’s website, the organization “combines client-centered care with a commitment to professional management and organizational responsibility,” and serves 3,399 clients (across the City) every day. The difference between a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4) is that 501(c)(3)s are prohibited from supporting or opposing candidates for elected public office and must only engage in nonpartisan advocacy. On the other hand, 501(c)(4)s may engage in some partisan activity, but partisan political activity cannot be the primary purpose of a 501(c)(4) organization.
According to its website, throughout 2022, citywide, 12,000 individuals were served by BRC’s Homeless Outreach teams, 6,723 individuals were placed into shelter by BRC Homeless Outreach teams, 8,671 individuals were served by BRC’s 30 integrated, holistic programs, 4,828 clients successfully completed a BRC program, 3,399 people were served per day and 704 formerly homeless clients found stable, permanent housing.
According to its website, BRC was presented with the Community Impact Award at the New York Housing Conference 45th Annual Awards, recognizing BRC’s HomeStretch Housing project Landing Road.
Financial Statements made available on the BRC website about the parent organization, which runs a number of facilities across the City, shows a breakdown of the organization’s revenue for year-end June 2022, with government and other grants of $123,285,881, Medicaid receipts of between $5,190,750, program service fees of $1,830,560, rental income of $4,919,744, contributions of $4,042,190, contributed services of $25,000 and other income of $949,307. Net revenue from special events amounted to $1,181,722. Total revenue amounted to $141,425,154.
We therefore contacted NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) on Dec. 13 to ask if the department oversaw the Bronx-based facility if it received government grants through its parent organization, BRC, and if so, when the last onsite visit of the Bronx facility took place, and generally, if the department could comment on the incident in question. We did not receive an official response from DHS.
Meanwhile, total program expenses for BRC (parent organization) as of June 2022, amounted to $121,943,883, management and general expenses amounted to $12,848,328, while fundraising costs amounted to $791,914.
Skepticism has been raised in the past by some Bronxites when it comes to the running of shelters and supportive housing facilities in The Bronx, the cheapest borough in terms of real estate costs in the City, by non-Bronx-based organizations which have a tendency to expand their services beyond their original remit, and start providing healthcare to local residents in addition to the population it serves onsite.
A number of scandals involving nonprofits have not helped to quell this skepticism. Recently, two shelter residents complained about alleged inadequate supportive services at a shelter in the Mt. Hope section of The Bronx, at which a young mother allegedly stabbed her two young infant children to death. ACS is investigating the incident, as reported.
Article 28 of New York State public health law recognizes and regulates the accreditation of public health care facilities. Article 28-certified facilities participate in the Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance plans with a higher rate of reimbursement than that of non-certified facilities, and therefore it can be lucrative for such nonprofits to expand healthcare provision beyond their original remit, to avail of such higher rebates.
Meanwhile, according to the City Register, property ownership information for the one building located at 237 Landing Road is unavailable. The site is not far from the billion-dollar new Fordham Landing development, which is still in its infancy.
As reported, New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently announced a new outreach approach by his administration to addressing the unmet mental health needs of those experiencing homelessness in New York City. The approach, as reported, which relies on the intervention of NYPD officers, has been praised by some and has received some pushback from some other elected officials, including New York City Public Advocate Jumanne Williams and from some of those who advocate on behalf of those experiencing homelessness, who advocate for more investment in social programs and housing as a preventative approach to addressing the underlying causes of homelessness and illness.
As previously reported by Norwood News, there was opposition to the opening of the BRC shelter facility at Landing Road in 2017, particularly among residents of nearby Fordham Hill Owners Corporation (FHOC), located at 1 Fordham Hill Oval. At the time, during a meeting chaired by State Sen. Gustavo Rivera (S.D. 33), between residents, BRC and City officials on the project, Myrna Calderon, president of FHOC’s board of directors, referenced an alleged lack of communication between BRC, NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and other stakeholders, particularly with schools in the area.
“Fordham Hill is not against shelters or homeless families,” said Calderon. “We do understand there is a homelessness problem. We do understand that we have to do our part. The problem is not that you put a shelter here. The problem is if you had bothered to have engaged the community, you would have realized this was not the best location.”
— Coalition for the Homeless (@NYHomeless) December 13, 2022
As reported, the body of man who appears to have been homeless and which was “at least a few days old” was removed last weekend from Van Cortlandt Park. It is understood the man in question was living in a homeless encampment in the park. His cause of death is unknown and will be determined by the City’s medical examiner.
Temperatures during the week leading up to the day of the discovery of the body fluctuated between 34 degrees and 54 degrees during the day, and between 28 degrees and 55 degrees at night-time. Dec. 12 was the coldest night during the week at 28 degrees. As also reported on Dec. 13, two men were found deceased at two separate subway stations, one at 205th Street subway station on Dec. 6 and one at Morris Park subway station on Dec. 7. Their causes of death will also be determined by the City’s medical examiner.
Dial 311 or visit 311 Online to report an individual who is living on the streets, or to find prevention/shelter programs near you. Meanwhile, call the main number (212) 361-8000 to be directed to the appropriate DHS office.
A National Suicide Prevention hotline is available since July 1, 2022. Call 988 for help.
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene provides a confidential mental health and substance use support 24/7 via their NYC Well service. Talk with a professional on (888) 692-9355 or via 888-NYC-Well, text “well” to 65173, or chat on NYC Well – Talk. Text. Chat. 24/7 (cityofnewyork.us).