The non-profit organization that runs the only homeless shelter in northern Westchester has decided to abandon its plans to relocate the facility to 851 Washington Street and seek an alternative location.
In a message posted on Facebook Tuesday, the Board of Directors of Caring for the Hungry and Homeless of Peekskill (CHHOP) stated it had not received the funding needed “to move the Washington Street project forward,” and thus would be turning its attention to another property in an industrial area.
“We will be reapplying for the grant but feel that we need to show good faith to the shelter as the closing date approaches,” the Board of Directors stated. “It is our belief that a location in a more isolated, industrial area, although not ideal, will be more acceptable to the community. A shift to a new site would also allow us to proceed more quickly and let us move on from our current location, which is inadequate, difficult/cost prohibitive to renovate, and lacking in long-term security.”
“We are saddened by the negative comments made regarding our residents, who want only to have a safe place to stay while reorganizing their lives,” the board added. “We ask for the cooperation and support of the wider community as we move forward.”
The surprising announcement came one day after another divisive public comment session before the Peekskill Common Council at which Cynthia Knox, executive director of CHHOP, proclaimed CHHOP would be refraining from communicating further publicly about the controversial $1.5 million project.
Opponents of the relocation of the Jan Peek House homeless shelter, which has been located on North Water Street since 1988, implored Mayor Andre Rainey and councilmembers to intervene, citing the community upheaval the proposed move to Washington Street has created.
Councilwoman Vanessa Agudelo acknowledged the bitterness on both sides that had escalated on social media and asked for a more civil debate.
On January 18, CHHOP officially filed for a zoning text amendment with Peekskill to relocate the Jan Peek House Shelter. If a special use permit was approved by the Common Council, the zoning law change would have applied to all districts in the city, thus allowing shelters in any C-3 zones. Separate approvals were also needed from the city’s planning and zoning boards.
In September, Knox said her organization did an extensive search and settled on 851 Washington Street since it can be renovated to serve its needs and is close to a bus stop. The building on Washington Street was purchased by CHHOP for about $900,000 and is in dire need of expensive repairs.