The proposed 125-family homeless shelter slated for 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale has received the backing of the city and the Department of Homeless Services, angering area elected officials and civic leaders.
A $27 million dollar contract between the city and Samaritan Village, a Briarwood-based human services agency, to establish the homeless shelter will be discussed at a public hearing on the mezzanine level of the Manhattan Municipal Building at 1 Center Street at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
However, there are still hurdles that need to be cleared before a shelter could possibly open, such as a full environmental review of a potentially contaminated plot of land, currently occupied by an empty factory that once manufactured airplane parts.
Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden, one of the many upset area leaders, believes that there are a myriad of real issues that a potential homeless shelter could bring to the community and that the city government has failed to effectively communicate residents regarding those possible consequences.
“This is the arrogance of the Bloomberg administration,” Holden said. “No one can tell us that crime doesn’t increase around homeless shelters and they’re bringing in families into one of, if not the most overcrowded school system in Queens.”
Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano echoes Holden’s trepidations over the potential shelter, saying that his primary issue is the environmental status of the building and the physical work that would be needed to remedy it.
“It is not only an industrial building surrounded by industry, but there’s the question of whether the site has contamination,” Giordano said. “Even if it were a private development, it would still be a poor idea. I think that the cost is significantly more than homeless housing would cost if so much physical work wasn’t needed at the site.”
Glendale Civic Association President Kathy Masi agrees with Holden and Giordano, and believes the $27 million could be better spent.
“Why not think this through and for $27 million, you can keep people in their own neighborhood with some sort of subsidy to get them back on their feet?,” Masi said. “I don’t think [the city is] listening at all. The city isn’t thinking this through.”
The Department of Homeless Services said in an email to the Chronicle that, “We have approved the proposal and will move forward with the city’s standard procurement process.”
Samaritan Village declined to comment on the issue.
Elected officials joined area civics in expressing their outrage, with Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) saying in a statement that “the funds for the restoration of the proposed location will be put on the backs of the taxpayers who already have enough on their plate.”
Eric Yun, spokesman for Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), says that her office is doing everything they can to prevent a possible shelter.
“She has reached out to Mayor-Elect de Blasio’s transition team to discuss the issue,” Yun said. “We understand the community is very concerned and angry. It’s something we believe, once the process is over, that the city will reject.”