BY LUIS GRONDA
More than 200 Glendale and Middle Village residents came out on Saturday to say “no” to the proposed homeless shelter on 78-16 Cooper Ave., walking distance of Atlas Park Mall and several public schools in the area.
Earlier this year, Samaritan Village, a homeless services company, announced their interest to Community Board 5 to build a 125-family homeless shelter. Wilner Realty, which is looking to sell the property, currently includes the vacant building.
Residents at the rally held signs that had “homeless shelter” crossed out on a piece of paper and loudly chanted “no shelter!” at one point during the protest.
Local elected officials and residents adjacent to the area have raised several concerns about the project, including its close proximity to several elementary and middle schools in the area, the amount of foot traffic in an area they say is underserved by public transportation and a fear of decreased property values.
Heather Truberg, a Middle Village resident and organizer of the anti-shelter rally, said they are not opposed to the shelter itself, just not at that location.
“As Samaritan Village has willingly admitted, their proposed 125-unit proposed homeless shelter would include criminals of all kinds that would literally be within walking distance to several of our schools, parks and child-family-friendly environments, homes and small businesses in Glendale and Middle Village,” she said.
Other residents echoed her sentiments, including Miguel Hoyos, who lives about 12 blocks from the abandoned facility and has two children who go to school in the area.
“In shelter homes inside, you see drug dealers, prostitution and this is not going to be an exception. To ignore that would be foolish,” said Hoyos, who was holding a sign that said “for the safety of our community, no to homeless shelter.”
Several elected officials representing the area also attended the rally and spoke against the proposal, including Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D- Middle Village), Assemblymembers Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven). Crowley’s opponent in the District 30 race, Craig Caruana, was also in attendance.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.