Woodhaven residents expressed frustration over a host of quality-of-life issues during Saturday’s Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting at Emanuel Church of Christ.
The discussion was sparked by an update on a planned transient homeless services facility planned for 100-02 Atlantic Ave. on the Ozone Park/Woodhaven border. While not a typical homeless shelter, the center would serve walk-in homeless people who need a meal, a shower or a place to sleep for a short time.
All of the neighborhood’s elected officials at the meeting, including state Senator Joseph Addabbo, spoke out against the shelter.
“Some are good and some are bad,” Addabbo said, adding that “warehousing” of the homeless was a terrible idea, one where only those who own the sites of the shelters benefit.
“The ones who make out here are property owners,” Addabbo added.
The senator placed some of the blame on the ongoing rift between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo; he noted that the governor allocated additional resources toward fighting homelessness in the city, but little progress has been made toward solving the homelessness crisis.
“Why not talk to the governor and work out a plan for this issue?” he said, referencing de Blasio. “Oh, that’s right, the mayor and the governor don’t get along.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich made a plea to residents to humanize those who are in need of a facility like the one slated for Atlantic Avenue.
“A lot of these homeless individuals are people who fell on hard times,” he said, adding that the city should seek permanent housing for homeless people, not hotel rooms.
With residents concerned that the facility will attract panhandlers or worse, the discussion quickly turned into a critique of the cops. Several residents expressed concern about the attentiveness of the 102nd Precinct in responding to complaints, including illegally parked cars and noise.
“They never come, they never come,” one resident said at the meeting.
Another resident noted that when there’s a loud house party in her community, she calls 311 and then later sees the issue “resolved” on the city’s 311 website while music is still blaring outside her window.
“I want to know, what do they consider resolved?” she asked.
WRBA President Martin Colberg said he often speaks with the commanding officer of the precinct, Deputy Inspector Deodat Urprasad and the precinct’s community affairs officers regularly and has been blunt about Woodhaven’s concerns.
“I’ve told them, ‘If you have officers in your precinct who don’t want to serve this community, they can go to another precinct,’” Colberg said.
Assemblyman Mike Miller told residents to contact him directly if they feel they are not getting an effective response from the police and he will contact the precinct himself.