DHS Pushes For Glendale Shelter

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

The controversial homeless shelter proposed for Glendale is closer to becoming a reality.

In a letter sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg dated Dec. 6, the Dept. of Homeless Services recommended that the City award a contract worth $27 million to Samaritan Village, the Briarwood-based homeless services company that submitted a proposal for the area.

The shelter would house 125 families in an area more than 66,000-square-feet. The contract would be for five years and it is slated to begin on July 1, 2014.

The 22-page letter lists several reasons why DHS is recommending the site be converted to a homeless shelter, including the need for a shelter within Community Board 5, which covers Glendale, and the suitability of the building to host the shelter.

DHS said in the letter that the shelter would be compatible with the character of the surrounding area and its close proximity to public transportation.

“The building’s use as a shelter is compatible with the mixed-use character of the surrounding areas. Moreover, the four-story building will have very limited impact on the neighborhood character because of the physical similarity to other residential and mixed-use buildings in the immediate area,” Michele Ovesey, the DHS Commissioner, wrote in the letter.

Residents near the area have picketed outside the currently-abandoned building multiple times in the past year, raising several concerns about the proposed shelter, including its close proximity to several schools in the area, transportation and its effect on local businesses.

Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5, said the potential environmental impact on Glendale is his chief concern.

He said the building is near a chemical storage facility and a brownfield site and could be contaminated itself.
“It doesn’t make sense that you would want to put people there to sleep, to live,” Giordano said.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) said it is still early in the review phase of Samaritan Village’s proposal and does not indicate that the shelter has been given a green light.

“Instead of wasting time and money completely rebuilding this former manufacturing site, which may need serious environmental remediation, the money should be spent on locations that have housed residents before and can be easily converted to provide safe housing for families,” she said in a statement.

A public hearing for the proposal is set for Thursday, Dec. 12 at 1 Centre Street in Manhattan. It is slated to begin at 10 a.m.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com or @luisgronda.