A homeless shelter for single women over the age of 50 is coming to Douglaston.
The Department of Homeless Services alerted area elected officials on Dec. 22 that the Pride of Judea Community Services building, located at 243-02 Northern Blvd., will be transformed into a “high-quality, borough-based shelter facility.” A week later, the DHS confirmed it will house 75 homeless women as part of the Turning the Tide on Homelessness initiative.
The shelter will be the first DHS site in Community District 11 and offers priority placement to those originally from the area so they can be closer to their support networks, houses of worship, schools, jobs, healthcare, family and communities. It is anticipated to open sometime in late 2021.
Its residents will be offered an array of services to help get them back on their feet, including case management, counseling, permanent housing placement assistance, on-site medical life skills workshops, and supports in securing employment. They will also have the access to health and mental health services, referrals to substance abuse treatment, vocational training, GED instruction, conflict mediation and legal services.
In the week between learning of the shelter and its confirmation Assemblymember Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), state Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside) and City Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) voiced concerns to the DHS. On Dec. 29, the three representatives shared a joint statement alerting their constituents to their incoming new neighbors.
“While we believe this is a better outcome for the community at large, we are still disappointed to see DHS adopt policies where key decisions are made without ever engaging local stakeholders and community members. In the coming months, an open dialogue and our continued coordination will ensure that DHS listens and properly responds to any and all of the community’s needs and concerns during all stages of the process,” the representatives said.
A DHS representative, however, said the agency had sent invitations to the community board and elected officials for potential shelter site suggestions, but had never received any responses.
The DHS also promised to establish a community advisory board to maintain open communication with the neighborhood. The panel will hold regular meetings and maintain direct lines of communication between staff and area residents to ensure any community concerns are proactively addressed as they arise, the representative said.
Additionally for the safety of the community and the shelter residents, the site will be equipped with 24/7 security provided by Samaritan Village, a nonprofit service provider. At least three security staffers will be on the site at any given time and 70 surveillance cameras will be installed across the grounds. A 10 p.m. curfew will be implemented and a 24-hour open line for community feedback will be made available for neighbors.
The site is one of 86 facilities identified by the DHS for borough shelters under the Turning the Tide program, 43 of which are operational. As of Dec. 27, there are about 18,500 single adults living in shelters each night; over 4,500 are women.
“The Borough of Queens and New Yorkers from the area who fall on hard times deserve access to the types of services and supports that can help restabilize their lives with dignity — and as part of our borough-based approach, we remain committed to ensuring Queens communities have the critical safety net resources they need to support those who may fall on hard times, right here in the community, so they can get back on their feet closer to their support networks,” the DHS told the Chronicle in an email.