Glendale residents worry about consequences of homeless shelter
by Andrew Shilling
Sep 03, 2014 | 10044 views | 3 3 comments | 166 166 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As civic leaders voice their concerns over consequences from new homeless shelters in the borough, a recent push from the Glendale community to divert a proposed transitional housing facility on Cooper Avenue just lost some steam.

After the newly renovated Pan American Hotel, at 79-00 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, became one of the most recent shelters to open in the region, Community Board 4 district manager Christian Cassagnol said he started receiving letters from business owners and nearby residents.

“We heard some complaints about them not adhering to curfew, and I have seen people outside the shelter after 11 p.m.,” Cassagnol said. “ So they do have to ramp up security.”

He added, however, that Samaritan Village and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) have done their part and responded with advisory meetings to address the issues.

Looking at the potential future for her community, Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said she too has witnessed warning signs at other shelter facilities throughout the borough.

“What I saw is atypical of what goes on at the two Samaritan Village sites that I’m aware of in Briarwood and Jamaica,” Masi said. “But I saw people out past curfew, possibly dealing drugs and panhandling.”

Masi has since developed a petition to gather community support for the most recent push for a school complex on the proposed site for the shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. to address an overcrowding issue in District 24 schools.

She added that while the proposal for a school in place of a shelter has been slow to generate support, she is confident that “it will take off once school starts.”

The plan for a school was started by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley years before a homeless shelter became the topic of discussion.

It was recently revitalized after the site passed an environmental study, however DOE spokesperson Marge Feinberg this week said, “We are not interested in the site.”

Department of Homeless Services spokesperson Christopher Miller said the city is in preliminary phases of opening the new 125-family shelter, and is unaware of any discussions with the DOE and School Construction Authority for the development of a school.

“We don’t have a contract yet, but we’re moving forward and this is something that is going to come to fruition,” Miller said of the current plan for a 52,000-square-foot Samaritan Village housing facility. “We know of no obstacles at this point.”

In response to curfew complaints, Miller said work permits allow residents to be outside past designated curfew hours, however adding that the larger problem is the way the homeless are viewed by the community.

“They’re trying to say homeless people bring crime to the neighborhood,” he said. “I would argue that all people don’t want to be in a shelter, and the perception that these families are criminals or harbor criminal intention is outrageous.”
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September 09, 2014
A lot of people are upset and I am one, why because I believe that everyone has the right to get inform and to agree or disagree if they would like this shelter to be in their community. First of all we are all working people, we pay our taxes and we some how make our ends met. Some of us have to work 12 hours a day just to have enough money to pay our rent, bills etc. If we could do why can anyone else and I am not saying that we have a well paying job we also struggle but not because of that we do what some on these people are doing!!! I believe that the first step of helping these people is by providing them a job!!!making sure they have a job even if it have to be 2 jobs they should make ends met and if they don't afford an apartment why don't they rent a room, what most people do because of there economical situation? There are families I know, hard working people that rent a room because they can't afford an apartment live there with their family and survive and not go into a shelter !! Why because they were taught to work and not depend on other social service.. I believe that most of these people are in this position because they know that the government will give them everything in their hands!!! Again I know there are hard working people and not everyone is a bad person but there has to be something done with this..!!!
September 03, 2014
It's funny how some of the same community leaders who thought the Glendale site was not environmentally safe for a homeless shelter are now proposing that schools be built there...
September 03, 2014
I am not sure why the DHS spokesperson Chris Miller finds it appropriate to say that the bigger problem is the way the community views these families. That is the reason its ok for the curfew not to be enforced. His continued conversations with the media are infuriating. I completely understand that not everyone in the shelters are criminals. There are many people trying to make ends meet, but for DHS to continue to ignore their own security procedures in the name of the fact that there are families in this shelter is also wrong. Being a member of a family does not PRECLUDE someone from having a criminal background or from participating in criminal activities. To ignore this truth put the community and the other shelter residents in danger