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Homeless Shelter Contract Raises Ire In Mount Vernon

Westchester County Legislator Lyndon Williams, center, heard concerns Thursday night from Mount Vernon residents about a county-contracted homeless shelter on East Lincoln Avenue.
Westchester County Legislator Lyndon Williams, center, heard concerns Thursday night from Mount Vernon residents about a county-contracted homeless shelter on East Lincoln Avenue. Photo Credit: Greg Maker

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon leaders and residents are irate over a contract approved by Westchester County to use the Friendship Worship Center, 261 E. Lincoln Ave., as a homeless shelter.

George Oros, chief of staff for County Executive Rob Astorino, said the Friendship Worship Center would operate as a warming center for up to 14 people from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. But residents and leaders in Mount Vernon said that is not acceptable.

County Legislator Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon) held a public hearing on the issue Thursday night to listen to concerns from residents, who said they were not notified before the contract was approved. Williams said the opposition he and his constituents have to using the building as a homeless shelter is not about the homeless population, but about how Mount Vernon cannot consistently be used as a “dumping ground” for the county’s social problems.

Resident Robert Latimer, who works across the street from a homeless shelter in Yonkers, said the homeless population has nowhere to go and roams the streets after they are released from the shelter in the morning.

“Where are these people going to go?” Latimer said. “The Amani School is there, so the county should find a better location soon.”

Resident Sharon Johnson said she pays too much in taxes to have a homeless shelter opening by her house.

“I love people, but when I move into a neighborhood for the protection of my children, there should be a solution,” Johnson said. “This should have never happened.”

Board of Education member Eli Goodside said that East Lincoln Avenue is one of the last middle class sections of Mount Vernon. Goodside said the county comes off as saving other municipalities in Westchester but forgetting about Mount Vernon.

“The definition of colonialism is to take something out without putting something in, which is what this is,” Goodside said.

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