Aug. 23, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Two new homeless shelters will open in Central Queens next year and residents are not happy.
The first shelter will open in Glendale at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in early 2020 and will serve 200 single men, according to the New York City Department of Homeless Services. The second will open in Ridgewood, at 1616 Summerfield St., in late 2020 and will cater to 132 families.
The shelters will be the first dedicated traditional shelters in the community district, according to DHS.
“Every neighborhood across New York City has a part to play in addressing this citywide challenge—and with zero shelters in Queens Community District 5, the need for new, high-quality, borough-based capacity could not be greater,” DHS said in a statement.
Residents have long feared that a shelter would come to Cooper Avenue and have held rallies to nix such plans. In April, members of the Glendale-Middle Village Coalition went so far as to bus protestors to the Long Island home of the Cooper Avenue property owner.
Council Member Robert Holden has expressed his disapproval of the proposed Glendale shelter from the beginning, opting to urge the city to build a school at the Cooper Avenue location instead. Upon learning the news that the shelter was greenlighted, he vowed to continue to fight against it.
“I am disgusted with the way City Hall does business when it comes to housing the homeless,” Holden said. “I presented a strong plan to have a new District 75 school built on the Cooper Avenue property and I was told by all involved city agencies that this was an ideal solution.”
The councilman said his proposal for a school at the location was dismissed by DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza and added that the homeless shelter would have already been built on Cooper Avenue if he didn’t introduce the proposal in August of last year.
“I tried to fight against this shelter the right way, by negotiating with city agencies and coming up with reasonable proposals, only to have the rug pulled out from under me,” Holden said.
He added that he had received positive feedback on his school proposal and just needed the mayor’s approval.
“But the mayor recently told me he knew nothing about the plan,” Holden said. “I’m sick of playing this game with City Hall, so now I will fight back the best way I know how, with my neighbors by my side.”
The Cooper Avenue shelter will serve 200 single men experiencing homelessness who are currently employed or actively seeking employment, according to DHS. It will replace the recently-shuttered temporary housing inside Maspeth’s Holiday Inn Express and take in a significant amount of men that were housed at the hotel. The Holiday Inn shelter was also subject to protests and was ended after a lawsuit earlier this month .
The men’s shelter will be run by Westhab, a Westchester-based nonprofit that will help residents to find and retain employment through on-site services and employment case managers. The end-goal is to help residents build income and achieve independence in order to transition to permanent housing.
The Ridgewood shelter, serving families with children, will be run by Brooklyn-based CORE and will offer priority shelter to Queens families, particularly those in Community District 5. CORE will also provide a number of on-site services, including child care, employment counseling and housing placement assistance.
Each site will have 24/7 security, as well as curfews for residents. Community advisory boards will also be formed for each shelter project to receive community input.
The shelters are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Turning Tide” plan that has already sited 46 shelters across the five boroughs and is committed to ending the use of hotel facilities for sheltering the homeless.
If all temporary homeless housing inside Queens hotels were to close today, the borough would only have enough beds to house roughly 5,300 homeless New Yorkers — a couple thousand shy of the 8,100 homeless New Yorkers from Queens who live in shelters citywide, according to DHS. The plan to build borough-based traditional shelters will offer homeless New Yorkers the opportunity to be sheltered in their home boroughs.
“Homeless New Yorkers come from every community across the five boroughs, so we need every community to come together to address homelessness,” said DHS spokesperson Isaac McGinn. “With zero shelters in Queens Community District 5, these sites will give individuals and families with children the opportunity to get back on their feet closer to their anchors of life.”