THE BRONX - Westchester Square merchants and residents say the city opened a homeless shelter in the neighborhood without properly warning property owners or getting community board approval.

Neighbors say homeless families moved into a 38-unit building at 1624 St. Peter's Ave. days after the Department of Homeless Services sent a letter to residents. The director of homeless services says neighborhoods are usually notified, but the department had to respond to an emergency housing shortage.

Local officials say the area is already saturated with homeless shelters and other services. Councilman James Vacca (D-13th District) says the department cannot just declare a housing emergency without notification.