I’m sure that Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.’s opposition to the proposed development of a 50-unit supportive housing residence in Astoria (“Thanks, But No Thanks” 10/30) is based on well-meaning concern for his district. However, his claim that the consequences of this development “could be dire for a neighborhood that has long been struggling to improve itself” is based on a false premise and is simply wrong.
As Executive Director of Urban Pathways, the not-for-profit, community-based organization that has proposed the supportive housing development, I am proud of our record of seamlessly integrating our supportive housing residence into the neighborhood where we are located. Our supportive housing residence is, in fact, indistinguishable from any other neighboring quality development.
As a veteran advocate for the homeless, I’m certainly not surprised by Councilman Vallone’s statement that “no community can be thrilled about such a project.” As you can imagine, I’ve heard this concern expressed many times. However, this apprehension is based on stereotypes that are simply not borne out by the facts. Our Manhattan residence—Ivan Shapiro House, a 55-unit supportive housing residence has operated successfully for more than a decade without negatively impacting the community or surrounding property values.
The residents of the proposed building in Astoria have been deemed ready by mental health professionals to live on their own—and to work toward living a more stable and productive life—assisted by the supportive services Urban Pathways provides. Urban Pathways will provide comprehensive on-site services for the residents —a program director, case managers, a director of social services, a consulting psychiatrist, a nurse and maintenance staff. In addition there will be 24-hour, seven-day-a-week security.
I am proud of our record of achievement with homeless and formerly homeless adults. Since 1975 we have helped over 100,000 men and women move toward stability, independence and recovery. We’d be happy to sit down with Councilman Vallone to document the outstanding record compiled by Urban Pathways in caring for and rehabilitating individuals who have nowhere else to turn—while at the same time not impairing the social fabric or property values in the neighborhoods where our residence is located. We again invite Councilman Vallone to visit our Manhattan residence whenever it’s convenient for him.
Frederick Shack, LMSW