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Queens Chronicle

Homeless shelter plan back on for Cooper Avenue in Glendale

Site would house up to 200 undomiciled men, Holden is told

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Posted: Friday, July 27, 2018 11:42 am

Seven months ago, the Department of Homeless Services told the Chronicle that the longstanding but dormant plan to build a homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale was dead.

But there's been a dramatic change of plans, according to the office of Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village).

The lawmaker announced Friday that an unnamed social services provider is in negotiations with the DHS to house up to 200 homeless men at the location — a defunct, four-story factory.

"My office had received several reports from area residents over the last few days about activity at the former manufacturing building in Glendale," Holden said. "After sending numerous inquiries to various DHS officials over a 24-hour period, and speaking with Commissioner Steve Banks, these reports have validity and I am extremely concerned."

No deal has been finalized, Holden added, noting that he had provided a "more viable location" for a shelter in the district but "the DHS never responded."

"I vehemently disagree with 78-16 Cooper Ave. as a viable site for a large men's shelter," Holden said, "and will vigorously fight against it as I have in the past."

According to city records, a work permit was approved Friday to build 85 residential units within the former factory — which Department of Buildings paperwork shows is owned by the Cooper Avenue Group.

When contacted by the Chronicle on Friday, Daniel Rabinowitz, who is listed as Cooper Avenue Group's agent in the DOB database, declined to comment.

"I can't say anything," Rabinowitz said.

Plans to use the factory as a shelter date back to 2012. Community opposition to the proposal was fierce, with numerous area civic leaders coming together in 2014 to form the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition.

After raising thousands of dollars from neighborhood residents, the group sued the city that fall over an environmental assessment of the decrepit former factory that the city contracted out to an independent firm, a report the coalition said was deeply flawed.

The litigation was dismissed in court and the group's appeal was denied in early 2016. But by then, little action had occurred on the city's end with the plan.

Asked multiple times Friday if a shelter was planned for 78-16 Cooper Ave., DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn refused to give a direct answer, instead only offering a statement about the agency's shelter siting process.

"We provide notification to communities when a viable proposal from a not-for-profit service provider has been fully evaluated—and communities will be the first to know as locations are identified for use as shelter," McGinn said. "With half of the homeless New Yorkers in Queens currently being sheltered in commercial hotel locations, we must identify high-quality, borough-based replacement capacity in Queens in order to finally phase out the use of commercial hotel locations once and for all.

"Our borough-based approach will offer our homeless neighbors, including the more-than 8,000 New Yorkers from Queens who’ve fallen on hard times, the opportunity to get back on their feet closer to the communities they called home, where support systems like family, schools, medical care, and houses of worship, can help them stabilize their lives faster.”

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