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Queens Chronicle

Katz stands against homeless shelter

Becomes latest elected to oppose plan

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:21 am, Thu Feb 27, 2014.

The mail box for Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor must be overflowing by now.

Borough President Melinda Katz became the most recent elected official to oppose the proposed 125-family homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, as she penned a letter dated Jan. 27, detailing her concerns about the plan.

Community Board 5 announced at its Feb. 12 meeting that Katz had joined forces with other elected officials such as Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) among others as opponents of the shelter.

“I am aware that under Article 17 of the New York State Constitution, the City is legally obligated to house homeless individuals,” Katz wrote in her letter. “However, putting children in a facility that was once a warehouse that used environmentally sensitive products is not the answer.”

CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri said at the Feb. 12 meeting that there is little activity currently ongoing with the project, but the next step is for a full environmental review of the site to determine exactly how contaminated it is.

Additional worries prompted by the possible addition of the shelter to the community include increased overcrowding of schools by the potential influx of hundreds of children living at the shelter, as well as inadequate public transportation in the surrounding area.

“This proposed facility will house 125 families, thereby adding more children into the most overcrowded school district in my borough,” Katz wrote. “The shortage of school seats in District 24 is an ongoing problem that should not be exacerbated. The new children added to this school district will not have the benefit of a quality education.”

The shelter, if constructed, would be operated by Samaritan Village, a Briarwood-based human services agency.

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