THE BRONX - A proposal to build housing on Crotona Avenue for the mentally ill suffered a major setback Wednesday, but plans could still move forward.

Community Board 6 unanimously voted down a project by Heritage Health and Housing. The nonprofit wants to build 45 affordable housing units for the mentally ill near 189th Street.

"It's only inevitable that one will breach security and accost children," said concerned resident Robert Lupo.

"These people are mentally ill," said Executive Director Jorge Abreu. "They're not convicted criminals." Abreu believes there's a need for the type of housing he wants to provide, but he feels people aren't vocal because they're fearful of the stigma.

Heritage Health and Housing plans to review its proposal and regroup. Technically, the nonprofit can still try to advance the project since community boards are only recommending bodies.

However, board members say they have the support of elected officials and are willing to take the fight to Albany if need be.