The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) confirmed reports that the former factory site will be converted into a shelter for 200 single adults. That site will open in early 2020.
DHS will also open a new shelter for 132 homeless families at 16-16 Summerfield Street in Ridgewood, which is slated for a late 2020 opening.
“Homeless New Yorkers come from every community across the five boroughs, so we need every community to come together to address homelessness,” DHS spokesperson Isaac McGinn said. “With zero shelters in Queens Community District 5, these sites will give individuals and families with children the opportunity to get back on their feet closer to their anchors of life.
“Working together with neighborhoods and not-for-profit service provider partners, we’re confident that these New Yorkers will be warmly welcomed,” he added. “Through collaborative support and compassion, we will make this the best experience it can be for these individuals as they get back on their feet.”
The Cooper Avenue shelter will be run by Westhab, a Yonkers-based nonprofit that will operate an employment site for the 200 men who are currently employed or are actively seeking employment.
According to DHS, many of the single adults who were sheltered at the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth will be relocated to this site.
Westhab is expected to provide onsite services and support, such as job readiness training, job search assistance and access to employment case managers. They will also be provided links to off-site services, such as substance use treatment, vocational training, child care and legal services.
The Summerfield Street site will be operated by CORE, a DUMBO-based services provider, which will offer on-site services like case management, housing placement assistance and after-school programming for children where feasible.
The new shelters are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide” plan to end the use of all cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities citywide. The city has already sited 48 new shelters in the five boroughs.
As for security, both sites will have a curfew and “round-the-clock security,” DHS said. At the Cooper Avenue shelter, a minimum of two security officers will be stationed at the entrance to control building access and monitor security cameras.
There will also be a 24-hour open line for the community to ask questions and raise concerns. A total of 75 security cameras will be installed throughout the building and across shelter grounds, the agency said.
Similarly at the Summerfield Street site, a minimum of two security officers will be stationed at the entrance, in addition to the 24-hour line. The site will have 45 cameras installed in the building.
DHS said it will also form community advisory boards for each site to open lines of communication between the staff, security and the local community. The advisory boards will hold “regular meetings,” the agency said.
More than 8,100 homeless New Yorkers in shelters citywide are from Queens, according to the city.
“Every New Yorker in need has the right to safe, quality shelter and every community must share in ensuring that right is upheld,” said Catherine Trapani from Homeless Services United.
Local elected officials criticized the city’s efforts to open new shelters in the district. Councilman Robert Holden said in a statement that he intends to fight the Cooper Avenue shelter.
“I am disgusted with the way City Hall does business when it comes to housing the homeless,” he said.
Holden said he presented a “strong plan” to build a new District 75 school for special needs students at the Glendale site, and that he was “told by all involved city agencies” that the school was an ideal solution.
Last week, however, Chancellor Richard Carranza announced that the Department of Education would invest an additional $16 million to improve PS 9, a District 75 school in nearby Maspeth.
That meant the Cooper Avenue site –– which Holden said would have already been converted to a homeless shelter in August 2018 –– was back on the table as a potential shelter.
“I tried to fight against this shelter the right way, by negotiating with city agencies and coming up with reasonable proposals, only to have the rug pulled out from under me,” Holden said. “I was told countless times that DHS and SCA loved my plan to build a new school on Cooper Avenue, and the mayor’s approval was all that was needed.”
“But the mayor recently told me he knew nothing about the plan,” he added. “I’m sick of playing this game with City Hall, so now I will fight back the best way I know how, with my neighbors by my side.”
The Glendale shelter also found opposition in State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who said in a statement that he is still against large-scale shelters with “limited services and inadequate transportation.” Instead, Addabbo said he’s in favor of smaller, “more community-appropriate sites.”
“Are we really ‘turning the tide’ on solving the homeless crisis as the mayor planned? Where is the creative thinking to seriously address the severe homeless situation in our city?” he said. “I guess after witnessing five years of the de Blasio administration’s treatment of the homeless crisis, we may never know the answers.”
The Summerfield Street site in Ridgewood, however, found a supporter in Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who said that all communities in New York City have a responsibility to “do their part” in responding to the homelessness crisis.
“Ridgewood is no exception,” Reynoso said. “As we approach the shelter’s opening in the latter part of next year, I will be engaging with Ridgewood residents on how to best address their concerns.”