JUDGE SAYS YES FOR AIDS HOUSING

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Last week, the courts trumped the protests of the Bedford Stuyvesant community board and okayed a controversial new AIDS supportive housing project on Gates Avenue. Supreme Court Justice Richard Braun ruled in favor of the developer, nonprofit housing group Pratt Area Community Council, giving it the green light to develop 71 studio apartments for low-income adults and people with AIDS.

The suit was filed last spring by angry members of the local community board, who labelled PACC an “outsider” organization with few board and staff members from Bed-Stuy. PACC, located near Pratt University, has in the past focused its development work in Fort Greene.

“There are other organizations in the neighborhood that have a development background that have not been considered,” Sharonnie Perry, chair of Community Board 3’s housing committee, told City Limits last March. She vowed to oppose all PACC projects in the neighborhood.

In the suit, the board claimed PACC had skirted mandatory environmental review processes and had ignored worries that the neighborhood is already over-saturated with clinics and shelters.

In fact, two months before PACC went public with its plans for the $7.8 million project, the community board approved an AIDS housing development for a vacant lot just ten blocks from the Gates Avenue site. The Lantern Group, a developer of supportive housing for people with HIV, broke ground on its 72-unit facility in November after an 18-month community board review process, and expects to open its doors next year.

But the judge plowed through Community Board 3’s claims, pointing out that privately-run facilities are exempt from laws that protect neighborhoods from taking on more than their fair share of city social services. In addition, wrote Justice Braun, “There is a dearth of permanent supportive housing in Brooklyn for low-income persons with AIDS.” The AIDS rate in Bed-Stuy is 30 percent above the city average.

The plaintiffs have not decided whether to appeal the judge’s decision.