Glendale prepared to talk, but DHS out to lunch
Aug 08, 2018 | 10391 views | 0 0 comments | 584 584 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Community Board 5 in Queens is one of the more forward-thinking and active community boards in the city.

After a couple of homeless shelters were considered by the Department of Homeless Services, the board’s leadership put together a team of members to become better acquainted with how the community should serve this population.

For two years, the committee has been meeting regularly with organizations and agencies that serve the homeless. They have a keen eye on figuring out how Community Board 5 can do its part.

Hats off to chair Dmytro Fedkowskyj and the dozen or so members.

One would think that DHS would encourage this activity and use it as an example. If they did believe the committee was doing a great service for this population, they might want to ask other boards to do the same.

But no.

Instead of using this committee to put together a homeless service plan in the neighborhood, Amanda Nasner, DHS’s Queens manager, came to one meeting and proceeded to spend a half-hour eating her dinner from a plastic bowl.

Perhaps it was a method of telling those at the committee that she skipped dinner for this meeting, and they should be grateful for her presence.

Committee members spent another half-hour convincing her that they wanted to learn more about the issue and services to help figure out how they could better understand HRA and DHS.

But no.

Instead of listening and figuring out how to help, she put up blinders and told the committee it was getting a shelter sooner than later.

The disgraceful disdain she had for the committee of stakeholders speaks volumes about the agency.

If she and DHS really have a passion for the homeless, then they would not be deaf to the concerns of anyone who might have a different way of looking at solving this dire crisis.

It’s been four years since the residents of Glendale fought against DHS’s proposal to use a factory at 76-18 Cooper Avenue for a 125-family homeless shelter.

After a number of community meetings, residents determined a shelter that big should not be put in an area, although zoned manufacturing, within a few hundred feet of residences and two blocks from a school.

A smaller shelter, perhaps.

On the one hand, landowner Michael Wilner, whose family has owned the property for decades, told this newspaper he was not interested in selling the property. When we spoke to him from the editor’s desk and asked about his decision not to lease this space to a storage facility, manufacturing or distribution company, he squarely put the blame on everyone else.

This new proposal put out last week would put 200 beds in this shelter.

On the other side, you have the Glendale Coalition, which was scheduled to meet on the evening of Wednesday, August 8. There should not be two sides to this issue, but DHS has made a bed which puts them at odds with every neighborhood.

Well, they blew a chance in this neighborhood.

The coalition has invited the new councilman, Robert Holden, to the meeting, who apparently found out about the proposed shelter after much of the community did, on social media.

You can read about this meeting on the on Thursday.

We suggest DHS be more inclusive of the Homeless Committee and of the councilman when looking to do something like this.
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