By Jon Cronin, Editor
The Breaking Ground Drop-In Center has partially opened its Ozone Park location.
Marian Molina, chairwoman of Community Board 9’s health and safety committee, announced at the board’s meeting last week that the homeless center had debuted in the community.
However, a spokeswoman for Breaking Ground said that the residential “safe haven” portion of the center is not yet open.
“Breaking Ground Queens Street to Home staff are currently working out of the building and seeing some of their existing clients there,” the spokeswoman said. “The building is not yet open for walk-ins. Psychiatrists and street medicine nurse practitioners are available to Street to Home clients as needed. The opening of the full facility will be in phases.”
Breaking Ground’s mission is to get homeless persons into permanent housing with the aid of on-site social workers and psychiatric and medical staff.
The nonprofit’s plan includes a “safe haven” and drop-in center, which involves the housing of 50 adults for an average of nine months. It would also serve a maximum of 75 clients coming off the street for a day to eat and shower as well as those in need of education and services that aid in the prevention of losing housing.
In the safe haven portion, residents would get their own room or private space and have no curfews or check-ins. The center would also have a robust 24/7 staffing with on-premise security. Residents would not be kicked out during the day as they are in shelters and are encouraged to stay inside and not loiter outside.
The site has drawn protests from local residents and parents of the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture, which is less than 1,000 feet away. If the site were a traditional shelter, it would be in violation of state law, which prohibits shelters from being within 1,000 feet of a school.
Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) held a town hall in December, during which residents vociferously demonstrated that they are against the opening of the drop-in center.