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Queens Chronicle

Homeless shelter gets a thumbs-down

Community leaders say building proposal will not benefit area

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:24 am, Thu Aug 22, 2013.

Last week, Community Board 5 received a letter from Samaritan Village, a nonprofit agency that intends to turn a vacant building on Cooper Avenue in Glendale into a homeless shelter.

One week later, residents, elected officials and community leaders are furious about the proposal.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Glen Powdy, a Glendale resident, said. “We don’t need a shelter here. How many homeless people do you see running round this neck of the woods?”

The property, located at 78-16 Cooper Ave., was rumored to become a candidate for a homeless shelter for about a year now, when it was falsely assumed that CB 5 received a proposal. Now that a proposal has been submitted, members of the community are urging city agencies to deny the request.

“This cannot be allowed to happen,” said Craig Caruana, a Middle Village resident and Republican candidate running against Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village. “Had I been a Council member at the time, I would have fought it. I would have done the leg work and found an alternate location for this shelter, a location where there is a homeless population that can use it.”

Crowley would not respond directly to Caruana’s jab as she said that she was too busy working for her district to comment on the campaign, but she did say that she is working to ensure that Samaritan Village does not move in.

“It is not economically feasible,” Crowley said. “The property is in need of serious repair and is in desperate need of renovation that would take well over a year so it would not make sense for the city to go into a contract with a nonprofit for this property.”

Crowley added that the building, which is zoned M-1, is only designated to be used for industrial purposes. While that is true, there have been shelters in the past that were granted permission to build on manufacturing-zoned ground.

CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri Jr. said the building would be better suited for multiple industrial businesses and could even boost the local economy.

“We identified the site as a perfect industrial business site,” he said. “We took a visit with [Economic Development Corp.] and it is perfect for industry work. We need jobs in this area. We have more people in this district now than we have ever had and we have a lot of skilled workers who could benefit from what the building has to offer.”

The property, which was once a knitting factory and manufacturing facility for airplane parts, has all the utilities needed to run an industrial business already installed, something Arcuri said the city should take into account when reviewing Samaritan Village’s proposal.

The nonprofit, which has a series of homeless shelters around the city, could not be reached for comment but Arcuri said the community board is awaiting a response from the prospective buyer.

“They are talking about an emergency need for housing but this site wouldn’t help with that,” Arcuri said. “It’s surrounded by Brownfield and would take a while to make it livable.”

Welcome to the discussion.