Oct. 18, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Members of Queens Community Board 5 rejected the City’s plan Wednesday night to create a 200-bed shelter in Glendale and called for the homeless to be placed in several smaller shelters instead.
The board opted to oppose the 200-bed shelter at its monthly meeting and voted instead in favor of housing the homeless in a number of 20- to 25-bed shelters.
Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Chair of the CB5’s Special Committee on Homeless Issues, told the board that the proposed 78-16 Cooper Ave. shelter would be too large and out of character with the surrounding residential area. He advocated for smaller shelters, which the board agreed with by a vote of 34-0.
Fedkowskyj, on behalf of the special committee, listed several reasons why the city should not move forward with the plan.
He said the site is within walking distance of four public schools and two parochial schools, as well as a daycare, gymnastics school and youth sports facility.
“This is a significant concern considering that homeless single adults have a much higher rate of serious mental illness and addiction disorders,” he said.
The influx of 200 new residents would also put additional pressure on “the already stretched-thin 104 Precinct” and on the “already overtaxed sewer system,” Fedkowskyj said.
Another reason he listed is that the site is within a manufacturing zone and is likely to be contaminated.
But Fedkowskyj said the board does have to address the homeless issue.
“We need to do our fair share and serve our district’s share of homelessness,” Fedkowskyj said. However, he said smaller shelters were the answer.
The community board’s Special Committee on Homeless Issues will be working to create a list of locations as alternatives to the Cooper Avenue shelter.
However, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has no intention of changing course and told the Queens Post that it is moving ahead with its plan to house 200 single men at the 78-16 Cooper Ave site in the first quarter of 2020. It said it has reviewed an array of options.
“As part of this Administration’s commitment to open and ongoing engagement, we have worked closely with local elected officials to consider additional specific locations they suggested, none of which were ultimately viable for use as shelter,” Isaac McGinn of DHS said. “As a result, we are moving forward.”