MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Westchester County Social Services Commissioner Kevin McGuire defended the county’s contract with the Friendship Worship Center in Mount Vernon to operate as a homeless shelter.
Residents voiced their displeasure with the homeless shelter, located at 261 E. Lincoln Ave., at a public hearing held by County Legislator Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon) last week. But McGuire defended the site for the homeless shelter, saying that it would operate as a “warming center” for the homeless from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. until mid-April. McGuire added that the homeless shelter wouldn’t overlap with a day care center operated out of the facility.
“The drop-in site is simply a humane response that allows the homeless to get out of the cold and into a clean bed for the night,” McGuire said. “It protects some of the most vulnerable in our society from freezing outdoors and does so in a cost-effective way. Westchester County has a long history of taking care of the less fortunate and providing shelter for the homeless.”
Still, the complaints from Williams and residents at the public hearing were not specific to the homeless but of the decision to place the shelter in Mount Vernon. Many residents who spoke noted that wealthier municipalities like Scarsdale and Bronxville are never targeted for such locations.
“Mount Vernon cannot consistently be used as a dumping ground for the county’s social problems,” Williams said.
McGuire said that the location was chosen based on bids sought by the county, which was awarded to the Friendship Worship Center.
“It was chosen after a rigorous evaluation of bids that involved two separate Request For Proposals,” McGuire said.