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Queens Chronicle

DHS to CB 8: Tell us where to put a homeless shelter

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Posted: Monday, May 13, 2019 2:56 pm

Know of any good places for a new homeless shelter in Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills or Kew Gardens Hills? 

If so, the city Department of Homeless Services wants to hear from you.

DHS Borough Director Amanda Nasner spoke to Community Board 8 last Wednesday, requesting that potential shelter locations within its district be recommended.

“There is a homeless population that is coming into the system from this community,” she said. “And we want to be able to give them the opportunity to come home. We want to be able to shelter them closer to their schools or closer to their social networks.”

Nasner explained that the de Blasio administration is opening more shelters as it phases out commercial hotels and cluster sites used to house the undomiciled under its “Turning the Tide on Homeless Prevention” plan. 

In early 2018, the city stopped housing homeless families with children at the Par Central Motor Inn in Jamaica Hills, a Community District 8 location. The DHS continues to operate a different shelter in the district, though: the Briarwood Family Residence.

Nasner said the DHS has announced 42 new locations across the five boroughs, including some recently in Staten Island.

“We are going to open shelters in communities that have never had homeless shelters before,” she said.

Plans for shelters in Queens have ignited intense opposition from neighboring homeowners. Residents have protested proposals to house the homeless at locations in Blissville, College Point, Glendale, Maspeth, Ozone Park and other neighborhoods.

In January, the city’s homeless population hit a new peak, reaching around 64,000.

The DHS borough director said that many more would be without housing were it not for the de Blasio administration expanding services for tenants — around 200,000 people have received emergency rental assistance and city-funded legal counsel has helped about 70,000 stay in their homes.

But not everyone at CB 8 was impressed.

Board member Bob Harris asked, “If the system is working so well, why are there so many demonstrations against these shelters?”

Nasner said the DHS is working hard to be transparent and engage residents in neighborhoods where it intends to open shelters. Aside from reaching out to CB 8, the agency sent letters to elected officials in the area.

“I think communities feel blindsided when we do open shelters, since they’re not part of the process,” the DHS official said. “But this is how you can be part of the process. We’re asking for sites. We’d like to hear from community members about sites you guys think are appropriate.”

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1 comment:

  • Buster57 posted at 5:44 pm on Mon, May 13, 2019.

    Buster57 Posts: 79

    I have 2 suggestions:

    1) Any abandoned property should be converted to a homeless shelter.
    2) Convert Gracie Mansion into a homeless shelter.

    When discussing homeless shelters with the people who will be effected, do you tell them if it will be families or men or recovering addicts or sex offenders? If it is not for families then these should NOT be in family neighborhoods or near schools and would be better off in industrial areas.