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Queens Chronicle

Pols, community rip city over Glendale homeless shelter

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Posted: Monday, September 23, 2019 2:02 pm

PS/IS 119 was so jam packed for a town hall last Thursday about the proposed homeless shelter for 200 men scheduled to open in early 2020 at 78-16 Cooper Ave., that residents lined the walls, sat in auxiliary bleachers and even had to watch from the stage as politicians spoke.

“We will not accept City Hall dictating what our neighborhood should have,” Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) told the crowd.

He also pointed the finger at who he believes is responsible for the situation.

“It’s the poverty pimps,” Holden said. “The people that make money, so-called not-for-profits, off of homeless shelters, which is big business in the City of New York.”

In late August, Holden announced he and other elected officials had received word from the Department of Homeless Services that the agency intends to move forward with the shelter. For years the community has voiced its opposition to the plan. Holden wants to see a District 75 school serving special-needs students at the site instead.

He also took aim at Mayor de Blasio for , he said, not wanting to work with the community.

“He’d rather go around thinking that he could become our president,” Holden said, hours before de Blasio dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.

According to Holden — based on information from a recent meeting with the Department of Homeless Services, the Mayor’s Office and service provider Westhab — the average length of a stay for a resident in this type of shelter is nine months. If a resident doesn’t find employment he or she will be transferred to another type of shelter.

There will be dormitory style living conditions with six, 10 or 12 residents per room, according to information Holden and other elected officials were given at the meeting.

Westhab will have eight case managers and two social workers on staff. There will be an in-house security staff of 40 guards and six supervisors who will work in three hour shifts to provide security 24 hours a day.

There will be a roving vehicle patrolling the perimeter of the property. If shelter residents are seen loitering, the guards will ask them to return to the building but cannot force them to. Shelter residents are required to leave their dorm during the day but are not required to leave the building.

Westhab will have 15-passenger vans to take residents to public transportation.

Approximately 20 residents will be moved into the building per week until it reaches capacity. Priority will be given to people within Community District 5, then other Queens residents and finally others throughout the city.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) also took aim at de Blasio, encouraging the community to try and stop the shelter “to show this mayor, just because he’s king of New York City in his eyes, that he can’t go around the rules that homeowners have to deal with.”

Addabbo said when Michael Bloomberg was mayor, he would look at all five boroughs for shelter sites “without pitting one against the other.”

“We never saw this kind of anger, this kind of animosity, this kind of attrition in our communities,” Addabbo said.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) spoke about his Home Stability Support plan, a proposed supplement for those facing eviction, homelessness or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions.

He noted that he previously couldn’t get the plan through the Republican-controlled Senate but now that the Democrats make up the majority, it’s Gov. Cuomo who kills the bill.

Hevesi pointed out Cuomo started a group called Housing Enterprise for Less Privileged in 1986, and people associated with its board have contributed to previous Cuomo campaigns.

“I understand you’re mad at the mayor, I understand you’re mad at the city and I understand you don’t want this shelter but I’m telling you unless we deal with this bigger problem, this macro issue of the governor ... protecting a select group of people who are making money off of homelessness,” the situation won’t change, Hevesi said.

The assemblyman said he doesn’t like the proposed shelter but he won’t oppose it.

“I’m not for it but I’m not going to oppose it because I’m spending all of my time ... to get rent supplements done,” Hevesi said.

Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) criticized city officials saying, “I don’t like the way they operate. They’re not good to the community.”

Miller added, “My issue is with the process, with the deception, with the bait and switch.”

Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association and a member of Community Board 5, also spoke against the proposed site.

“If everyone here is scared of what’s going to happen, you should be because this is a real possibility,” she said, adding that the only way to stop it is through strength in numbers.

She recommended every person in the audience bring someone to an Oct. 7 public hearing regarding the shelter at Christ the King High School at 7:30 p.m.

Masi also implored residents to donate to the group to pay for an attorney, who could represent them in a lawsuit against the city to block the shelter.

“What I can do as a lawyer is to hold the city’s feet to the fire and make sure that they follow procedures that they’re required to follow,” said Christoper Murray, who represented the group in a previous lawsuit and was in the audience.

Though the previous case was lost, the suit delayed the opening, according to Masi.

Holden wants to stop the shelter “because we have our families here and we invested our entire lives to buy homes and we want a stable neighborhood.”

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1 comment:

  • stan chaz posted at 6:19 am on Tue, Sep 24, 2019.

    stan chaz Posts: 33

    The City is not targeting Glendale. They are trying to ameliorate a vexing social problem by sharing the burden more equally citywide, even building homeless shelters next door to billionaires row on Central Park South.

    The community and the City need to work together to insure that legitimate community concerns are addressed and acted upon. This is one city, no matter how diverse. We either all work together to solve its problems or we will eventually all suffer the consequences -- no matter how much we try to hide, evade or deny the issues with shouts of “not my problem” or “not in my neighborhood”. As a city we all sink or swim together. No man is an island. No community is an island. Glendale is not an island. Glendale must responsibly act as part of the whole, and share in both the burdens and the solutions and the rewards. Unfortunately all I hear are the politicians trying to cover their rear ends and pandering to the worst in us. But where are the voices of responsible community religious leaders in a situation that requires --that demands-- that they step up with their wider moral perspective & their desperately needed healing counsel? The next meeting will ironically be held at Christ the King High School. Will we hear the voice of Christ there, or just the shouts & voices of hate, fear, mistrust and division?

    There but for fortune go you or !.

    The homeless are not some kind of alien half-human monsters. They are suffering people like us who have lost their way, people who desperately need our help, not our condemnation, dismissal, ridicule or fear. For if YOU were in their tattered shoes, if YOU lived their shattered lives, if YOU were at the end of your rope and had nowhere to go, then YOU would hope and plead for compassion and understanding; YOU would hope and pray that when YOU stumbled, that when YOU fell, people would be there to lift YOU up - instead of kicking you further and further down into the abyss. Don’t turn away. Don’t turn inward. Instead, look beyond, reach out and embrace the better angels of both you and your fellow humanity.

    Love thy neighbor? Yes —especially if they are poor, hungry or homeless. Yes, ---even if they are not your family, or your next-door neighbor. For that love & empathy & respect is the true meaning of community, compassion and Christianity. But you don’t need to be Christian, or even religious, to understand the meaning & importance of the ancient teaching that told us: “whatever you did for the least of these you did for me”. That wise teaching is the timeless basis of all enlightened and moral societies, societies that work for everyone. We need to embrace & practice that difficult & beautiful teaching in our community, in our lives, and in our hearts - lest we perish.