In a letter to the mayor's office on Friday, Dec. 6, DHS noted their approval of a Samaritan Village-run homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave.
A public hearing will be held on Thursday, Dec. 11, on the draft contract with Samaritan Village to convert the 51,000-square-foot facility into a shelter capable of housing 125 homeless families, allowing for at least some public feedback.
“We have approved the proposal and will move forward with the city's standard procurement process,” said a spokesperson from DHS.
The proposal will only be reviewed by relevant city agencies and the comptroller's office, which must sign off on the contract, and will not go through a more rigorous review process because homelessness in the city has been deemed an emergency situation.
A similar situation arose in Carroll Gardens last year, when a homeless shelter was proposed for 165 West 9th Street. Despite community opposition and only 30 days notice to the community, the city moved forward with the plan.
The only reason the shelter hasn't opened yet is because of issues with the Department of Buildings regarding safety.
CB5 district manager Gary Giordano questioned the process from the city and said he suspects that the board would remain in opposition due to the cost and environmental concerns surrounding the site.
“It seems it is moving forward without the opportunity to check the environmental hazards,” Giordano said.
Since the initial proposal to use the site for a homeless shelter a little over a year ago, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley has actively looked for alternate uses for the building and said she would continue to fight the proposal.
"I have said from the beginning that this location is not a suitable site for a homeless shelter, and nothing in the Department of Homeless Services' initial review has changed my mind,” Crowley said.
Crowley explained that the city would need to spend more than $27 million to remediate the site, and hopes that DHS and the city would reconsider and look into alternate locations.
“Instead of wasting time and money completely rebuilding this former manufacturing site, which may need serious environmental remediation, the money should be spent on locations that have housed residents before and can be easily converted to provide safe housing for families," she said.
Like many of her neighbors, Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, has lost faith in the process and said she is skeptical that any amount of advocacy from elected officials can stop the city from going forward.
“I’m not surprised at this point, and I don’t really believe any elected official has made any real serious attempt to stop this,” Masi said. “That coupled with the denial a year ago that this would happen leaves me with no confidence.”
Chief among the concerns of local residents is that the shelter could house homeless persons with past criminal records. In the past, representatives of Samaritan Village have admitted that it would be illegal for them to deny shelter to someone based on a criminal past.
In its proposal, DHS noted that there is currently no homeless shelter in Community District 5, nor any shelter within a half-mile of the proposed site.
While Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi agreed with DHS that the area is in need of facilities for the homeless population, he too believes the city should seek out alternative sites.
“If the goal is to effectively help families move out of a transitional facility and into permanent housing then the City of New York can absolutely find a more cost-effective and appropriate way to do it,” Hevesi said.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo also said the fight is “far from over,” and that he would continue to work with the community.
“I continue to have environmental and safety concerns regarding that proposed site,” Addabbo said. “I look forward to opportunities and venues to express my views in stopping this proposal.”