Community members cited a variety of reasons why it would be a bad idea, including environmental risks, lack of infrastructure and the site’s location in a manufacturing area. Local residents sued, and the plan eventually folded.
Homelessness became a central issue again in 2016, when the city pushed a plan to convert a Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth into a permanent shelter. After nightly protests and lawsuits, that proposal was also defeated, although some homeless are currently living at the hotel.
Four years later, the city is back again with another attempt. According to Councilman Robert Holden, the city is in negotiations for a proposed men’s homeless shelter at the site of the shuttered Glendale factory.
Holden, who first heard about activity from area residents, confirmed the rumors with Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Steven Banks. According to the councilman, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was submitted for a “large facility” at the site.
Banks told Holden that a DHS review committe thought the proposal was “strong,” and that the unnamed social services provider is now in talks with DHS.
The proposed shelter would bring 200 beds to Glendale.
“This is not a proper location for any shelter,” Holden said in a statement. “It is out of character and in no way will be accepted by the community.”
The councilman added that communities have generally been more accepting of smaller family facilities, rather than large men’s shelters. He added that his office has previously suggested other locations for a shelter to DHS, but the agency never responded.
“I vehemently disagree with 78-16 Cooper Avenue as a viable site for a large men’s shelter,” Holden said, “and will vigorously fight against it as I have in the past.”
DHS spokesperson Isaac McGinn said there are more DHS clients in Community District 5, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood, than there are beds available to shelter them.
Specifically, McGinn said there are 287 individuals from 135 households from the area who are homeless, but only 104 homeless people are sheltered in the district. All of them live in the commercial hotel in Maspeth.
There is no capacity at a traditional homeless shelter in the district, which the city plans to build more of as they phase out commercial hotels and cluster sites.
“Homeless New Yorkers come from every community across the five boroughs, which is why we all must do our part to help our neighbors in need get back on their feet,” McGinn said in a statement. “We provide notification to communities when a viable proposal from a not-for-profit service provider has been fully evaluated, and communities will be the first to know as locations are identified for use as shelter.”
Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association and longtime member of Community Board 5, said this new effort is a “disaster.” She believes the revival of the shelter proposal is de Blasio’s own version of “mayoral vendetta.”
“I think he’s targeting all middle-class neighborhoods,” she said. “Part of it is, the system is so broken that it’s clear no one has a handle on how to handle homelessness. The only option is to inundate residential middle-class neighborhoods.”
She also called the landlord of the shuttered factory “greedy” because he stands to profit should the site be converted into a homeless shelter.
“Homelessness is big business,” Masi said. “Everything is about the money, certainly not the community.’
The civic leader added that both Glendale and Middle Village are becoming more congested, including in local schools.
“The community is not able to absorb this type of facility,” Masi said.