By Jon Cronin
A new men’s shelter with 200 beds has been confirmed to be in the running for a long sought-after location on Cooper Avenue in Glendale, although the deal is not complete.
Five years ago, Glendale residents thought they had won a fight against the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to stop the implementation of a shelter at an old factory, located at 78-16 Cooper Ave.
After Glendale Civic Association President Kathy Masi posted on the group’s Facebook page on July 26 that she had heard the DHS was negotiating for a shelter at the location, the community responded in an uproar.
Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) confirmed on July 27 that the DHS is negotiating with a provider that would oversee a shelter at the site. In January, the DHS announced that it was withdrawing plans to implement a shelter at the site.
DHS Spokesman Isaac McGinn denied that a homeless shelter is going there, simply stating, “We provide notification to communities when a viable proposal from a not-for-profit service provider has been fully evaluated—and communities will be the first to know as locations are identified for use as shelter.”
In a statement, Holden said that he spoke with Steven Banks, commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, who told him that “a sealed bidding process under a Request For Proposal was submitted for a large facility at the location.” Banks told Holden that the DHS’ review committee considered the proposal “strong” and the DHS is in negotiations with a provider. However, the deal is not complete.
“This is not a proper location for any shelter, it is out of character and in no way will be accepted by the community,” said Holden, who added that he gave an alternative location to the DHS, but the agency never responded.
“I vehemently disagree with 78-16 Cooper Ave. as a viable site for a large men’s shelter, and will vigorously fight against it as I have in the past,” Holden said.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said that he expects to see a repeat of events that took place at the site five years ago. He initially thought that the new permit for offices at that location was good news. “It means jobs,” he said. But constituents concerned about the permit and the recent work told him that they “don’t trust the city.”
Addabbo echoed his remarks at a recent Ozone Park community meeting with the DHS, noting that he is continually surprised by “the deceitfulness and lack of transparency from an administration that campaigned on transparency.”
He said that the 102nd Precinct, which patrols the area, is not getting extra officers and called the locations a public safety issue.
“When the mayor comes to Albany and starts requesting items, it’ll be a very interesting conversation on my part,” he added.
Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), whose district ends two blocks from the site, called the process of implementation “backwards,” and added that he suspects collusion between the shelter providers and the owners of the properties.
“It’s not a transparent way to handle business,” he said. “I support Bob Holden in the fight against this shelter.”
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) did not echo his colleague’s comments.
“No community in New York State, including the ones I have the privilege of representing, wishes to have a new homeless shelter,” he said. “However, considering the magnitude and growth rate of the worst homeless crisis since the Great Depression, the abject failure of our state government to create a rental supplement to reduce the need for new shelters, and the fact that providing shelter is not only more humane, but that homeless people deserve to be treated with the same respect any us would want if we fell upon hard times, I am open to accepting a new shelter in my district under the appropriate circumstances.”