By Jeremy Walsh
A well-respected nonprofit working with mothers just released from incarceration is planning an expansion in Corona as it also prepares to rebuild its headquarters.
Hour Children, a Long Island City-based group, acquired the former group home for juvenile boys at 51-02 103rd St. earlier this year. They hope to begin renovations on the building in January with the expectation of moving families in by June.
The group home, known as St. Germaine’s, had been operated by the citywide nonprofit Good Shepherd Services from 1978 to at least 2006. It had been a residence for 12 juvenile boys since 1993, according to the group’s Web site. Fitzgerald said Hour Children made its first bid on the building a year ago.
After 16 years of housing boys, Fitzgerald said, “the house looked it. We’re really fixing it up.”
That means $350,000 of work replacing the boiler, fire sprinklers and plumbing as well as adding more internal partitions.
Hour Children plans to house 16 families inside — 11 of which will come from their existing communal living site at St. Rita’s Church in Long Island City. The nonprofit has also acquired that property and plans to tear down the existing buildings to construct their new offices and more living space when the rezoning of the Dutch Kills area is approved.
The group currently houses 28 women and their children at three locations in Long Island City. When Fitzgerald decided they needed to expand, she said they looked at buildings as far away as Ozone Park before choosing the Corona location.
The women they serve, Fitzgerald said, are mothers who have been released from jail or paroled from state prison nurseries.
“They need to go to school, they need computer training,” she said. “We have an internship program. We have a licensed day care, so the babies are taken care of while the mom gets trained.”
Hour Children has served 7,000 women and children over 24 years with only 4 percent returning to jail, the group said it its newsletter. The state Department of Corrections reports an overall 30 percent rate of recidivism.
Fitzgerald said she was looking forward to discussing the facility with Community Board 4, which covers an area with a large number of group homes. The subject had not made it on the agenda in time for the board’s Jan. 5 meeting.
“The neighbors have been very welcoming and look forward to having families that live there,” Fitzgerald said. “I personally went around to a lot of neighbors to talk and tell them.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.