BRONX, NY (CBSNewYork/AP) – A new, state-of-the-art intake center for homeless families was officially opened in the Bronx during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was like night and day as he cut the ribbon for the new center that is replacing the old Emergency Assistance Unit.

“To call the EAU shabby and rundown would be a gross understatement,” said Bloomberg. “It was an indignity that no one should have to endure and it was a disgrace to our entire city.”

The new $65 million Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing Center, or PATH, is designed to help homeless New York City families in need.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports: Bloomberg Remembers Old EAU

The mayor says the center marks a change in direction from the EAU, where families waited for days and spent frightening nights sleeping on the floor. 

City councilwoman Annabel Palma recalled how she came to the EAU 15 years ago with her son when she was down on her luck.

“I didn’t even walk through the door,” she said. “Just looking at the front of the building discouraged me from walking into the building with my 3-year-old son.” 

She says she sees the new building as a beacon of hope, adding, “I’m still choked up.”

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports: New Building Will Give People Hope

Homelessness advocates say that despite the new setting, too many families seeking shelter get turned away. But city officials say they’re actually doing a better job of finding people places to stay with family or in other non-shelter options.

The PATH center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to single pregnant women and families with children in need of emergency shelter.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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