CB 5 Urges Strength in Numbers at Homeless Shelter Meeting

CB 5 Urges Strength in Numbers at Homeless Shelter Meeting

Residents and civic leaders gathered for a protest against the proposed homeless shelter last summer.  File Photo

Residents and civic leaders gathered for a protest against the proposed homeless shelter last summer. File Photo

Glendale residents hope to demolish plans to put a homeless shelter in their backyard at a town hall meeting scheduled for Thursday night.

The homeless shelter has become a staple subject at monthly Community Board 5 meetings with residents constantly calling for a unified front against the proposal. They will have the chance to speak face-to-face with all those involved at a public hearing on May 22 at 7:30 p.m. inside Christ the King High School.

CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano took the floor at the group’s May meeting last week to plug the meeting and once again urge that strength in numbers was the greatest weapon at their disposal.

“This is, unfortunately in my opinion, moving along,” he said. “That place is not suitable for anyone to live there and I think that’s one of our biggest reasons why no one should live there. I never thought this was a done deal, but it is proceeding along.”

Giordano helped organize teams to distribute flyers and other materials throughout the community this week to spread the word on the hearing and engage public support.

Nonprofit group Samaritan Village has been working in tandem with the Department of Homeless Services to construct details surrounding the $27 million, 125-family shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. while elected officials and residents kept a close watch. Many have argued that placing homeless people there would be a detriment to the surrounding community and even pose hazards to those who would be living inside of it.

Samaritan Village President Tino Hernandez said the shelter would be a hub of on and off-site services for families in need of assistance in order to maintain independent living, CB 5 said. In a letter to the board, Hernandez assured the potential shelter would have on-site security 24 hours a day, seven days a week along with access control and curfew policies.

The potential Glendale shelter on Cooper Avenue was once home to an airplane factory, but has been vacant for years. CB 5 Chairman Vinny Arcuri told the board last week that city inspectors paid a visit there last month to study the property and investigate its ability to handle greater masses of people.

The DHS started the process of conducting an environmental impact study of the site earlier this year, prompting elected officials including Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), state Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens), and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to call for a seat at the table.

“While this movement is not indicative of the feasibility of this proposal, we believe that it is both appropriate and necessary to engage the community on this topic to obtain their input,” the officials wrote in a letter to the DHS. “It is our belief that the Department of Homeless Services and Samaritan Village have a responsibility to remain accountable to the communities in which they propose to operate facilities.”

The city hosted a public hearing on the shelter in December 2013, when the community overwhelmingly opposed the plan. Giordano said he was surprised to see the proposal’s progress despite the widespread disapproval.

By Phil Corso


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