BY RYAN HAAS
Howard Beach will soon welcome new residents into their community with open arms.
A community residence at 89-14 South Conduit Ave. for people with developmental disabilities was agreed upon last week at the Community Board 10 meeting in South Ozone Park.
Senior Vice President Dorris Figueroa of Developmental Disabilities at Services for the Underserved (SUS), Chief of Staff at SUS Judith Jackson and Residential Vice President Carmen Lopez were all in attendance on Oct. 1 to present further information in regards to the project and how it will fit into the Howard Beach community.
There will be multiple apartments that will each house two individuals, either elderly, physically or intellectually disabled, administered by two staff members at all times, according to the SUS representatives.
“These staff members will assist with daily living needs, like shopping, bathing and eating,” Lopez said.
In addition to their housing services, residents would take part in a day-rehab program five days a week, Monday through Friday. A nurse and a psychologist would visit once a week for a couple of hours, just to ensure things are running smoothly.
Active for 37 years, Services for the Underserved is a nonprofit organization in which 2,500 people are served through four boroughs and 69 different communities. More than 1,600 of those people have a developmental disability.
“We provide residential and integrated care, employment and other support services, all with the aim of helping these individuals attain independence to their fullest potential,” Jackson said. “Our individuals are engaged in contributing to their community to the degree that they can through volunteer opportunities and supported employment.”
SUS employs nearly 1,800 people, with 135 people living in 10 Queens SUS-operated programs.
“We consider ourselves to be good neighbors to our surrounding communities,” Jackson said. “SUS gets involved as much as we can by organizing job fairs and conducting community days, where we bring together resources from the community and host their event.”
Jackson went on to explain how the organization works collaboratively with health clinics and training programs “to bring together employees, and have opportunities where individuals seeking employment can either gain employment through the network of programs that we have, or we can help individuals prepare for other opportunities outside of SUS.”
The group ensured to the CB 10 and Queens locals that an inspector would be sent out on an annual basis by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to survey the facilities and the regulation standards.
Following the presentation, questions surfaced about whether the building would be able to accommodate those in wheelchairs.
“One of the reasons why we chose this apartment is because its readily accessible. It’s wheelchair accessible,” Figueroa said. “And we have access on both sides of the building so the van can come pick them up.”