Cooper Avenue shelter plan moves forward - Queens Chronicle: Queenswide

Cooper Avenue shelter plan moves forward

By David Russell / Associate Editor | Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 6:03 pm

The long-proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale will open during the first half of 2020, according to Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village), who opposes the project. 

In a statement, the lawmaker said he and other elected officials received word on Thursday from the Department of Homeless Services that the agency intends to move forward with the shelter. 

It will be run by Westhab, a Westchester-based service provider, and will house 200 men. A significant portion of the men housed at the shelter will be from the now-closed Maspeth Holiday Inn temporary shelter. 

“I am disgusted with the way City Hall does business when it comes to housing the homeless,” Holden said in a statement. “I presented a strong plan to have a new District 75 school built on the Cooper Avenue property and I was told by all involved city agencies that this was an ideal solution. But as soon as DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza got involved, he decided it would be better to continue wasting our tax dollars and let the District 75 special needs students suffer in a century-old building surrounded by heavy truck traffic.”

Holden wanted to see the site become a school for special needs students to replace PS 9, located in an industrial part of Maspeth.

"I tried to fight against this shelter the right way, by negotiating with city agencies and coming up with reasonable proposals, only to have the rug pulled out from under me," Holden said. "I was told countless times that DHS and the School Construction Authority loved my plan to build a new school on Cooper Avenue and the mayor's approval was all that was needed. But the mayor recently told me he knew nothing about the plan. I'm sick of playing this game with City Hall, so now I will fight back the best way I know how, with my neighbors by my side."

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) also spoke out against the announced site.

"With my district on the verge of having Mayor de Blasio place a fourth of a large population of homeless men within its boundaries, most recently proposed for Glendale, I will continue to oppose larger scaled shelters with limited services and inadequate transportation, while advocating for smaller, more community-appropriate sites that would better serve the homeless individuals in need? Where is the major progress being made to address the homeless crisis after more than $2 billion overhaul of the Department of Homeless Services? Where are the affordable housing projects that were promised? Where is the cooperative working relationship with the local elected officials and community residents to help find real credible solutions for the homeless? Are we really 'Turning the Tide' on solving the homeless crisis as the mayor planned?

"Where is the creative thinking to seriously address the severe homeless situation in our city? What about utilizing city-owned sites and properties for cost-efficient modular housing as done in other states? What about developing abandoned zombie homes and providing a better living environment for homeless families, especially the children? I guess after witnessing five years of the de Blasio administration's treatment of the homeless crisis, we may never know the answers."

In March, a spokesman for Holden told the Chronicle that the SCA was working out a deal with the property owner and that they expected to receive confirmation in the near future that a school would be built at the site.

Plans to use the factory as a shelter date back to 2012.