Tag Archives: Department of Homeless Services

Backpacks donated to children of Pan American Hotel homeless shelter


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office

School-aged children living at the Boulevard Family Center in the former Pan American Hotel are all set for their first day of school.

Councilman Daniel Dromm, Queens Center and the Department of Homeless Services came together on Aug. 19 to distribute 200 backpacks, notebooks and water bottles to the children living at the homeless shelter located at 7900 Queens Blvd.

“The homeless children that moved into the former Pan Am Hotel in June are some of our newest neighbors and they need our support,” said Dromm, who believes it is appropriate to donate these backpacks to his “newest constituents.” “As a former teacher of 25 years, I know firsthand how important it is for students to come to school prepared to learn. These backpacks will help the children start the school year right.”

DHS and nonprofit Samaritan Village turned the Pan American Hotel into a homeless shelter for families in June. Since then the surrounding community has protested and rallied against the move, which happened without residents and elected officials being given prior notice.

Community members have voiced their concerns over community safety, increased in property taxes and crime, and overcrowding of nearby schools.

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Community calls homeless shelter at East Elmhurst motel an ‘abuse of power’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

East Elmhurst residents blasted city officials Wednesday for placing a homeless shelter on Astoria Boulevard without community consultation, calling the move a “covert operation reeking of disrespect.”

More than 200 neighborhood residents packed an Astoria museum’s theater to speak against the decision by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to turn the Westway Motor Inn into a permanent homeless shelter to house more than 100 homeless families.

Community members say they are outraged they weren’t told or asked about the motel becoming a permanent shelter.

“It was a deliberate, furtive and covert operation reeking of disrespect of our local elected officials, community leaders and the community at large,” said Rose Marie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association, which organized the meeting. ”We were advised after the fact and consider the action by DHS an abuse of power.”

Officials say that years ago the DHS came to the community requesting to turn the 121-room motel into a homeless shelter, but were met with opposition. At the time DHS stated it had no plans to convert the motel into a full-time facility and worked with the community on making the site only a temporary overnight shelter.

“When they came to us, we explained to them why this is the wrong place. Why there is nothing for these people to do during the day, this is a hotel on a dangerous service road,” said Peter Vallone Jr., a former councilman for the area who also worked with the DHS to come to the temporary shelter agreement. “To change that agreement you were supposed to come to the community and inform us. That never happened and that is an outrage.”

The shelter is being managed by social services provider Women In Need and currently houses a total of 67 families with 129 children, ranging from 1 to 17 years old, according to DHS representatives.

Residents who lined up to speak during the meeting, which went on for more than two hours, raised concerns over community safety, overcrowding of schools, increase in property taxes, environmental studies of the area and crime.

Antonia Papadouris, whose home driveway is adjacent to the backlot of the motel, said she has seen signs of marijuana and has found hypodermic needles on the ground. She also said that last Friday a teenager playing in the backlot pulled a knife on her father-in-law.

“I don’t feel safe in my neighborhood,” Papadouris said. “My husband wants me to take mace with me.”

However, Danny Roman, a resident of the homeless shelter, said his 15-year-old step-son, who was the one involved in the altercation, never pulled a knife. Instead, Roman said, he merely approached the man after hearing screams and having seen his step-son get injured during the fight.

“I didn’t go with any weapon. I went there humble,” said Roman, who lives at the site with his wife and four children. “I do understand. I do understand, this is a strong community. They have the right to fear…. But my kids go to bed at 8 p.m. Basically we are like in a prison.”

Lorraine Stephens, DHS first deputy commissioner, said the move was necessary because “right now we are in a crisis in New York City.” She blamed the Bloomberg administration, saying there was a “lack of planning around building the necessary capacity for shelter.”

“We were put in a situation where we have to shelter everyone that comes, that is deemed eligible for shelter,” Stephens said.“We were not looking at Westway a month, two months ago. But as of June we became in a crisis because our lack of capacity forced us to look throughout New York City and say where can we house these families?”

 

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Families at Pan American homeless shelter reportedly bused to movies during third protest


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents of the controversial Pan American Hotel homeless shelter were kept away from protestors during another rally against the opening of the site, according to a published report.

About 550 residents gathered Tuesday to hold another protest in front of the hotel located on Queens Boulevard and prior to the rally, the Department of Homeless Services arranged to have 230 children and adults from the shelter bused to the movies, DNAinfo reported.

The residents were taken to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2” paid for by the agency at a theater in Jamaica in order to remove the children from any hatred that “potentially could be exhibited” during the July 22 rally, according to DNAinfo.

Last night’s rally is the third held by residents opposing the shelter which currently houses more than 180 families. The community has said that the hotel was turned into the shelter, by nonprofit Samaritan Village, without residents and elected officials being given prior notice.

The last protest, which coincided with Community Board 4’s meeting with the DHS and residents, was filled with hundreds of protestors shouting criticisms back and forth with shelter residents.

Two weeks ago, just a neighborhood away, DHS approved the conversion of the 121-room Westway Motor Inn in East Elmhurst into a permanent homeless shelter as well.

Community members and elected officials in that area also say they were not told or asked about the decision.

The hotel previously was used as an emergency overnight site for homeless families, but two years ago the DHS has said it would not turn the motel into a permanent homeless shelter.

An emergency town hall meeting and public protest against the East Elmhurst homeless shelter is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

 

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Emergency town hall to be held on controversial East Elmhurst homeless shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano


Community members will have their voices heard during an emergency town hall meeting on Wednesday over the city’s decision to turn an East Elmhurst motel into a permanent homeless shelter.

On July 9 , the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) approved the conversion of the Westway Motor Inn, located at 71-11 Astoria Blvd., into a shelter to immediately house over 100 homeless families, according to officials. The shelter will be managed by social services provider Women In Need.

Residents, elected officials and local leaders say they are outraged they weren’t told or asked about the motel becoming a permanent shelter.

The United Community Civic Association will hold the emergency town hall meeting as well as a public protest on July 23 opposing the approved site selection.

“We have nothing against any of the groups that will be living here. The site is our concern. Only ones that will benefit from it are the owners of Westway,” Rose Marie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association, previously told The Queens Courier. “Nobody wants to be homeless and we understand that, but this is not the place to house them.”

Since the families have moved into the shelter, The Courier has observed Tempur-Pedic mattresses being delivered to the motel and also what looks like a recreational area being constructed in the back lot of the site.

A neighborhood resident said he has also seen portable electric kitchens being delivered to the motel.

The DHS did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

The town hall meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image, located at 36-01 35th Ave.

 

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Stringer criticizes DHS for handling of homeless shelter placement process


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Salvatore Licata

Amid ongoing controversy over several Queens homeless shelters, the city comptroller has said the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is “failing” in the way it deals with homelessness throughout the five boroughs.

In a letter to DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor, City Comptroller Scott Stringer addressed the ongoing “homelessness crisis, particularly among families” in New York City. He noted that there are different causes that contribute to the rise, however the “current playbook” in dealing with the issue needs to be changed.

“Especially concerning to my office is the emergency contracting approach that the Department of Homeless Services has employed to site new facilities in neighborhoods with minimal community consultation,” Stringer wrote in the letter on Thursday.

In one case, Glendale residents have been fighting for more than two years to stop an abandoned manufacturing plant from becoming a homeless shelter. The community complained that they were given little to no notice about the shelter.

“DHS must begin to immediately repair its relationships with local communities by creating a robust consultative process with community stakeholders for all of its currently planned sites and for those proposed in the future,” Stringer wrote. “This process should allow for meaningful input from local stakeholders, advocacy groups, and elected officials.”

In the past month, two western Queens neighborhoods have also had to deal with unannounced homeless shelters being moved into two hotels.

Hundreds of protestors spoke against the city’s initiative to house homeless families at the Pan American Hotel on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst without asking for any input from the community.

Last week, the DHS approved the conversion of the Westway Motor Inn on Astoria Boulevard into a shelter housing over 100 families. Residents and elected officials are outraged the agency let them know about the shelter just a day before the families began moving into it.

“If DHS continues to neglect communities until after emergency contracting decisions have been made it will neither benefit from local knowledge of the area nor engender harmonious integration with the surrounding communities,” Stringer wrote.

 

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Community opposes newly approved homeless shelter at East Elmhurst motel


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata

ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND SALVATORE LICATA

A community is outraged and looking for answers as they learned the city went behind their backs to turn an East Elmhurst motel into a permanent homeless shelter.

Last week, the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) approved the conversion of the Westway Motor Inn, located at 71-11 Astoria Blvd., into a shelter to immediately house over 100 homeless families, according to officials. The shelter will be managed by social services provider Women In Need.

“We are deeply troubled by this decision and find it disturbing that neither elected officials nor community leaders were informed or consulted beforehand,” a group of elected officials wrote in a letter to DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor after being told about the plan the day before the families were expected to begin moving into the motel. “While we appreciate that DHS is legally required to provide shelter for the homeless, the agency’s failure to provide any notification to the people currently living in the area who are impacted by its implementation is unacceptable.”

Community members, such as Gladys Gray, 86, who owns Donhauser Florist right next to the motel, say they are outraged they weren’t told or asked about the motel becoming a permanent shelter.

“[The motel] was once good for the community. Now I’m not sure what is going to happen to us,” said Gray, whose family has owned the flower shop for the past 125 years. “I don’t think this neighborhood can handle it.”

Gray also said that when the 121-room motel was previously used as a temporary emergency overnight shelter business dropped because “people were afraid to come around the shop.” Two years ago the DHS stated it had no plans to convert the motel into a full-time facility.

Rose Marie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association, which will hold an emergency town hall meeting and public protest on July 23, said she is deeply concerned about the shelter after the community allegedly had an agreement with the Bloomberg administration.

“The agreement was that the homeless people would be bused in at night and out in the morning, no permanent housing,” Poveromo said. “We have no voice, the government doesn’t follow the will of people.”

She added that the motel is not an appropriate location for a homeless shelter because there are no nearby public transportation options or stores, and the closest thing to it is a cemetery.

Elected officials also said that along with the lack of community input, they are also concerned about how the addition of more than 100 families would affect the capacity of schools and hospitals in the area which are already overcrowded.

“We have nothing against any of the groups that will be living here. The site is our concern. Only ones that will benefit from it are the owners of Westway,” Poveromo said. “Nobody wants to be homeless and we understand that, but this is not the place to house them.”

Just last month, in a neighborhood right next door, hundreds of protestors spoke against the city’s plan to house more than 200 homeless families at the Pan American Hotel, located at 7900 Queens Blvd. Residents also said they were not asked for their input regarding the shelter.

The DHS did not respond to requests for comment.

The emergency town hall meeting on the Westway Motor Inn homeless shelter will be held on Wednesday, July 23, at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image at 36-01 35th Ave.

 

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Elmhurst residents confront homeless families over controversial hotel shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirao

A face-to-face confrontation erupted between homeless families and protestors Monday night over a controversial shelter at an Elmhurst hotel.

After thousands gathered in front of the Pan American hotel during a June 17 protest, Community Board 4 called a meeting at the Elks Lodge on Queens Boulevard on June 30 to discuss the issue of the hotel being turned into a homeless shelter without residents and elected officials given prior notice.

Outside, hundreds of protestors exchanged comments back and forth with shelter occupants yelling at them to “get out,” “get a job,” and calling them “lazy” and “bums.”

Lale West, who recently moved in to the hotel with her son, daughter and husband, said the protestors made her upset, especially seeing little children shouting and holding signs.

“I’m upset because they don’t understand what is going on,” said West, who works as a chef. “Just how they have kids, we all have kids and we’re trying to make ourselves better. It doesn’t mean we’re bums. Today you have a job and tomorrow you’ll wake up and not have one.”

Nonprofit Samaritan Village proposed the Pan American Hotel, located at 7900 Queens Blvd., as a shelter to house 200 homeless people. Currently about 90 are already residing there.

“This is outrageous,” said Emmanuel Escoto, who protested outside the Elks Lodge alongside his 10–year-old daughter Jona. “If the city is so concerned for the homeless, why don’t they provide services for them? This should not be a dumping ground. It’s a shame the city isn’t doing more to help them, they are just sweeping it under the rug — our rug.”

The meeting was open to people who had pre-registered and included representatives from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), Executive Vice President for Samaritan Village Douglas Apple, community board members and elected officials.

“It is our intention and our plan to work closely with you, to ensure that the program we run at the PanAm serves residents and as part of the community,” Apple said to the audience. “We are not here to add problems, we are not here to create issues.”

Residents who signed up to speak during the meeting, which went on for more than two hours, raised concerns over community safety, overcrowding of schools, increase in property taxes and crime.

“I am not against homeless people, I am not against providing support for needy folks who need it. What I am against, and I think that everyone here is in agreement with me, is the process that [Samaritan Village] took to put the shelter in our community,” said Jenny Shao, a science teacher at the International High School for Health Sciences in Elmhurst. “For you to say this is an emergency plan to put into Elmhurst, a community of immigrants who often don’t have a voice, you think you can take advantage of us.”

According to Lorraine Stephens, first deputy commissioner for DHS, the “emergency declaration” to move the families comes from a recent “crisis situation” with a large increase in homeless families.

“In New York City we have a right to shelter, what that means is that we need to make sure there are no homeless children and families on the street,” Stephens said. “Part of that is what caused this emergency declaration that we’re in right now today.”

The politicians present promised the community they would work with Samaritan Village and DHS officials in regards to the hotel.

At the end, the community board unanimously voted on a motion to have the shelter removed from the hotel, but CB 4 chair Louis Walker said the decision is just advisory.

 

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Frustrated community board members wait for more details on Glendale homeless shelter


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

JEFF STONE

Queens leaders said they are frustrated that there has been no date set for a community meeting on a controversial Glendale homeless shelter proposal.

Community board members, along with the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), said Monday they have yet to hear from Samaritan Village about when the homeless advocacy group will be ready with a presentation on the proposal to convert the abandoned manufacturing plant at 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a home for 125 families.

Politicians and Glendale residents alike have previously expressed reservations over the sudden population influx, the building’s distance from the subway and possible contamination at the site in question.

Since the DHS announced that it would support the Samaritan Village effort, though, elected officials in Queens have worried about whether the two political groups are on the same page.

“It’s a very difficult process that seems to be all too standard,” said Gary Giordano, District Manager of Community Board 5, which includes Glendale. “It’s my impression that the Department of Homeless Services is talking to the applicant long before they’re talking to either the community board or the council person in the community.”

The frustration stretches back to December of last year, when the DHS sent a letter to the mayor’s office recommending the former airplane manufacturing plant be converted into a living space for displaced New Yorkers. Along with unanimously disagreeing with the letter, board members complained about being given too little notice that meetings had been scheduled and implied that the DHS might be trying to rush through the process.

Asked if the Department of Homeless Services needed a community board’s permission to build a new shelter, Giordano said, “Their policy is that they tell the applicant that they have to reach out to the local community board and let them know what they are intending and to give the community board an opportunity to conduct a public meeting on the matter.”

DHS spokesman Christopher Miller said the agency has been trying to find a time that works for all three parties.

“We are waiting for the provider to come up with a presentation date,” he said.

Samaritan Village did not return repeated requests for comment.

How soon the tension will simmer is anyone’s guess. Mr. Giordano refused to speculate on whether anything in the to-be-scheduled presentation was likely change his mind or the minds of any other board members, although he did say a meeting could soon be slated for a weeknight in May.

“I expect them to tell us as much as possible, or as much as we can get out of them, about the specifics of what’s in their application, some of which we know and some of which we don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t heard anybody say this is a reasonable site and that this is a reasonable way to be living.”

 

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Glendale pols appeal to Mayor de Blasio over proposed homeless shelter


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A new mayor, but the same old homeless shelter issue.

Representatives for Glendale penned a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio to stop the proposed homeless shelter on 78-16 Cooper Ave.

Assemblymembers Mike Miller and Andrew Hevesi, Congressmember Grace Meng and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley criticized the analysis by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) in the letter and the agencies support for the shelter. The city is seeking a five-year $27 million contract with non-profit Samaritan Village, which would operate the facility.

“The reality is that the vast majority of the arguments made in the letter for building this facility were so generic and broad that they may be used to justify the building of transitional housing facilities anywhere in the City of New York,” the letter said.

Last year, Samaritan Village announced to Community Board 5 that it proposed the site for transitional housing for 125-families.

The letter by public officials points out that city shelter stay lengths have increased within the past year by 16 percent and it also highlights that the building is about 1.3 miles away from the nearest subway train and “not accessible to residents of the facility, who will need public transportation to commute to off-site linkage services, educational institutions, stores, and workplaces.”

The homeless shelter proposal is currently in its second phase of review, an environmental assessment. Some feel that the proposal could lose in that phase, because the building sits on contaminated ground.

The third and final review phase will be conducted in a financial analysis by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

 

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Environmental assessment to be done on proposed Glendale homeless shelter


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The fight over the unpopular Glendale homeless shelter is heading to round two.

An environmental assessment study will be done on the site for the second phase of review to decide whether to transform the vacant factory on 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a homeless shelter, after it recently received support from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

Some elected officials are confident they’ll have a chance for a knockout punch in this round.

“That’s another shot we have,” Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi said at a recent Community Board 5 meeting. “I believe from anecdotal evidence that the site may be contaminated. They are not allowed to build on a contaminated site.”

DHS penned a letter to the mayor’s office last week in support for nonprofit Samaritan Village’s proposal to transform the defunct factory into a shelter for 125 families, with a contract valued at $27 million.

Elected officials and Glendale residents attended a public hearing on Thursday in Manhattan to reiterate their opposition to the possible shelter, because of the contamination on the site and congestion to local schools, among other reasons.

“The building was never intended for residential use. Changing this site to a residential use would require intensive remediation and expansive renovations,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said at the hearing. “Think of how much further we could use $27 million. This money could be spent repairing buildings that already have the infrastructure in place, and money would likely still be left over for improvements in current shelters and providing job placement and permanent housing services.”

The homeless shelter was first suggested to the city by Samaritan Village in 2011. A formal proposal was sent to the DHS earlier this year.

If the proposal passes the environmental assessment round, then it will go to the Office of the City Comptroller for financial review for the third and final phase.

 

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Controversial Glendale homeless shelter one step closer to reality


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Once it was a rumor. Now it’s almost reality.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) sent a 22-page letter to the mayor’s office in favor of a proposal by non-profit Samaritan Village to transform the abandoned factory on 78-16 Cooper Avenue in Glendale into a homeless shelter for 125 families, with a 27-million contract, despite strong objections from community residents, The Courier first learned  on Monday after noon.

Members of the community and all elected officials have been protesting against the homeless shelter saying that the site doesn’t make sense for the incoming struggling residents, because of the lack of transportation in the neighborhood and also because the abandoned factory, which used to make plane parts, sits on very contaminated ground.

“It’s surrounded by brownfields. Would you want your mother to be housed there?” said Community Board 5 (CB 5) chair Vincent Arcuri Jr. “I can’t understand why they are pursuing this site.”

After a formal proposal was submitted by Samaritan Village in May, 2011, the DHS began investigating the site. They have analyzed 70 locations, 16 in Queens, and 54 in other boroughs since then.

DHS provided a list of reasons why they believed the site was appropriate. Among them was the compatibility of the site, since it similar to buildings in the neighborhood and because they feel there will be no negative effects on the community as a result of inserting the shelter. Also, DHS noted it will add a commodity that the area is lacking since there are no homeless shelters in the community.

“In proposing the building as a site for temporary, emergency housing for homeless families with children, the DHS has carefully considered and balanced such factors as effects of the facility on neighborhood character, the concentration of similar facilities in the community district, the efficient and cost-effective delivery of services, alternative sites elsewhere in Brooklyn and the other boroughs, and the need for the proposed shelter,” the letter said.

Members of the community have already begun to express their disappointment with the DHS’s decision.

“I am utterly disgusted by the initial reaction one year ago that it was a rumor, and I say to those people now that their negligence has caused this to occur,” said Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, which collected more than 4,000 signatures against the shelter.  “If they were vigilant this would have never come to this point. Now let’s see what they can do to stop if pass this stage. Obviously they were wrong about it not getting out of stage one. Shame on all of them for not listening to the community.”

Elected officials have sounded off against DHS favoring the possible shelter as well.

“I have said from the beginning that this location is not a suitable site for a homeless shelter, and nothing in the Department of Homeless Services’ initial review has changed my mind,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “It would be irresponsible for the city to spend more than $27 million to rehabilitate a site that was never meant for residential use.”

A public hearing on the proposed homeless shelter is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the headquarters of the Department of City Planning on Thursday, December 12.

 

 

Fair Share Analysis_Cooper Family Residence_12 6 13 by The Queens Courier


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Sandy families out of hotel program


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Displaced families whose homes were destroyed by Sandy still remain housed in hotels thanks to the city’s Hotel Program. This temporary housing, however, is coming to an end next Friday, October 4, according to a city official.

The city’s Department of Homeless Services initiated a Hotel Program that provided evacuees with housing in the interim of receiving federal recovery funds and replacing what was lost. To date, 1,313 households participated in the Hotel Program, costing over $70.5 million, according to court documents.

As of mid-September, 179 households remain in the program. Seventy-six of those are linked to a permanent housing program, five are waiting for repairs on their own homes, 94 are working with the Temporary Disaster Assistance Program (TDAP) and four no longer receive DHS payments.

The program’s funding was provided by FEMAbecause the city “does not have a budget to support the Hotel Program,” said the papers.

Originally, the program was set to stop by May 31. The decision was taken to court, and the initiative was extended to Monday, September 30, the date that FEMA funding will end. Program participants should be out that following Friday.

“For over ten months, the city has dedicated tremendous effort and resources to more than 3,000 individuals displaced by Sandy. As the court has recognized, the city cannot afford to single-handedly continue this program in the absence of FEMA funding,” said Michael Cardozo of the city Corporation Counsel. “All participating households without an exit plan may access DHS shelter, where social services staff will continue to work closely with the remaining households to identify suitable housing options.”

Court documents stated to continue the Hotel Program it would transfer the “financial burden” onto the city which “does not have a budgeted source of funds to operate” the initiative.

 

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Glendale rallies against proposed homeless shelter


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

A senior center, a school, maybe even a park is fine, but residents in Glendale want to shut the door on a proposed homeless shelter.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. led a protest on Friday in front a defunct factory at 78-16 Cooper Avenue, which nonprofit Samaritan Village plans to transform into transitional housing if its proposal is approved by the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

“We are against a 125-unit homeless shelter that the city is planning to ram down this community’s throat,” said Vallone, who is running to be the next borough president. “This is the wrong location and it’s the wrong size.”

The community has been against this proposal since last year when rumors started. But recently Samaritan Village negotiated with Michael Wilner, the owner of the property, and submitted a proposal to the DHS. The nonprofit also sent a letter to Community Board 5 and local leaders to officially notify them of the plans.

Wilner could not be reached for comment as of press time. And when The Courier contacted Samaritan Village, which operates multiple shelters around the city, the group said that it would not comment as the proposal is still being reviewed.

The nonprofit said it plans to insert 125 families in the building and it will have security.

Community members are worried that adding that number of people in the neighborhood would inundate already overcrowded schools.

Residents also believe that Glendale isn’t a good fit for the shelter, because transportation is limited since there are no subway lines.

The factory, which used to manufacture plane parts, is contaminated, according to multiple sources, and the building would need millions in tax dollars to repair.

So instead of a homeless shelter, residents said they would prefer to see a school, a park for local kids or a senior center for the many elderly in the area.

“Right now I’m looking for someplace for my mother,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“I’m looking for something that I’d feel is appropriate, but I have to look upstate. So we need something in our neighborhood.”

They aren’t completely sure what the site should become, but there is a unified belief that a homeless shelter will damage the community so they don’t want it.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Augie Trinchese. “I’ve lived here for 41 years and I don’t want to see my property value go down.”

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Glendale community to fight proposed homeless shelter


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Not in my backyard.

That’s the sentiment of residents, business owners, politicians and civic leaders about a proposed homeless shelter in an empty, rundown Glendale factory.

The community is planning to prevent nonprofit Samaritan Village from buying the property at 78-16 Cooper Avenue and transforming it into transitional housing if the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) gives its approval.

“They [Samaritan Village] need to be reasonable about it and do what is in the best interest of the community and the people that would reside there,” said Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association. “It wouldn’t make sense to put them in area where there is no transportation.”

Last week, Samaritan Village told Community Board 5 in a letter that the nonprofit has submitted a proposal to DHS requesting to convert the site in question. There are no shelters in CB 5, according to DHS, so it would be the first in the area if the plan comes to fruition.

The nonprofit wants to house 125 families on the property, but opponents of the homeless shelter believe that would overwhelm the schools in Glendale, which many say are already overcrowded.

The site, which was a factory devoted to making airplane parts more than a decade ago, rests on toxic and contaminated land, according to Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who has toured the area a number of times.

Crowley, who also plans to fight the proposal, said the building is in dire need of repairs that would cost taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars.”

“It looks like the plan is not economically feasible and would be a waste,” she said.

Last year, when rumors surfaced that Samaritan Village wanted to buy the property from owner Michael Wilner of Wilner Realty Management LLC., the Glendale Civic Association quickly voiced its opposition.

Masi conceded the shelter is a good cause, but said it would be better for Samaritan Village to pick a different location. She suggested the shuttered Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica or St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst.

Samaritan Village declined to comment on the pressure from the community against its proposal and why it choose that site.

“Our proposal is under review,” a spokesperson for the organization said.

For the moment, no meetings have been scheduled with CB 5. The board is waiting to see the full proposal and the Department of Homeless Services’ assessment, which will be “carefully reviewed,” according to a DHS official.

“What we need to do right now is to communicate that this is an inappropriate site to the applicant and to the Department of Homeless Services,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5.

Samaritan Village: Glendale Homeless Shelter Notification Letter

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Bill would disperse homeless shelters evenly throughout each borough


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Queens shelters may soon be finding new homes.

Councilmembers Ruben Wills and Leroy Comrie started work in 2011 on a bill that would disperse homeless shelters evenly throughout each borough. Wills said research revealed that Community Board (CB) 12 contains 10 of the 18 shelters in all of Queens. CB 12 includes Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Baisley Park, Rochdale Village and South Jamaica.

“The DHS [Department of Homeless Services] is clustering all of these shelters,” Wills said. “All of these undesirable land uses are in certain community boards. We perceived that to be a huge problem.”

Under the bill, Wills and Comrie proposed limiting the number of shelters in any community board to one-third of the borough’s total.

Wills said placing shelters in one specific type of community, such as CB 12, is not in response to any increase in the homeless population.

“It is not fair that southeast Queens has the majority of homeless shelters in the borough,” Comrie said.

For the existing shelters, Wills suggested they make relocation plans so they and their residents are prepared to move when any site’s lease expires. He said it was important to put shelters in areas with convenient transportation.

The council pair proposed an additional bill under which the DHS would determine whether any shelter resident is a sex offender. If so, the department would notify the local community board, councilmember and police precinct. The department would also conduct mental health and criminal background assessments on all adults entering shelters. If passed, the bill will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

 

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