By Jon Cronin, Editor
The Ridgewood Presbyterian Church is in discussions with the city Department of Homeless Services and non-profit Breaking Ground to open a 15-bed “emergency bed stabilization program” in a two-room conversion at the church.
There is currently no firm date set or contract signed between the church, located at 59-14 70th Ave., and Breaking Ground.
Reverend Victoria Moss said that the church is gearing the program, which may launch at the beginning of September, toward people who are living in a dangerous situation or have been evicted due to rent increases. Moss said that when the church has empty beds, it will be open to taking Breaking Ground’s clientele.
“In this instance, Ridgewood Church reached out to us—as dozens of houses of worship have across the city—asking how they could help and seeking to open their space overnight to a small number of homeless New Yorkers in need, so we connected them with Breaking Ground, our nonprofit service provider partner coordinating street homeless outreach efforts in Queens,” said DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn. “These beds would enable Breaking Ground to continue bringing this borough’s homeless neighbors in off the streets and working with them as they get back on their feet. We always welcome houses of worship that want to do more.”
Moss confirmed that the guests will only be in the church from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Persons utilizing the shelter will have a warm place to sleep, the opportunity to shower, a place to do their laundry, security guards and will receive catered dinner and breakfast. Staffing will be provided by the church.
“We’re not even calling it a shelter,” Moss said. “A lot of the people are seniors and we know them through our senior program.”
She added that Breaking Ground will help the guests find permanent affordable housing.
“The ones [from their senior program] I know are retired and not working,” Moss said. “As long as they meet our criteria—no one violent and no one with substance abuse problems.
She said that no guests with a history of being in and out of shelters would be accepted.
At the June 14 Community Board 5 meeting, Father Michael Lopez of All Saints Church, who rents space from Ridgewood Presbyterian Church, said that his community outreach with the homeless under the Forest Avenue subway station should not be confused with the Ridgewood Presbyterian program.
“If you see someone out there hugging them, that’s me,” he said.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.