DHS Warns Of Future Qns. Shelters
More emergency homeless shelters will open across Queens in the weeks ahead-but no one seems sure where and when that will happen.
The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) broke the news to local lawmakers during a meeting at Forest Park’s Overlook last Thursday, Oct. 16.
Javier Lacayo, City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley’s communications director, confirmed to the Times Newsweekly that the legislator attended the session.
According to Lacayo, the meeting involved elected officials “whose districts may be impacted by future emergency homeless shelters” that the DHS may place in the weeks ahead.
Specific details, however, on a timeframe and possible locations for those shelters were not provided, he noted.
“DHS said they were considering sites throughout the borough for emergency shelters but provided no specifics about locations or timelines,” Lacayo said. “The only firm commitment made was that DHS would be in touch should they decide to move forward with an emergency shelter in the elected official’s district.”
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan was also in attendance at the meeting. David Aglialoro, her spokeperson, told the Times Newsweekly on Tuesday the legislator believes “it should have been a more public meeting” at Queens Borough Hall, adding that she was “very concerned that no exact locations for proposed shelters were given.”
In a New York Daily News article, a DHS spokesperson indicated the emergency shelters were needed to meet the ongoing homeless crisis, in which more than 57,000 people across the five boroughs are without their own dwellings.
“We hope that New Yorkers will find it in themselves to embrace these families with children in their communities, as we help them to get back on their feet,” the agency spokesperson said, as quoted in the Daily News article.
Homeless shelters across Queens have been a lightning rod of controversy all year long. Glendale and Middle Village residents banded together to file litigation blocking the DHS and the nonprofit group Samaritan Village from creating a transitional housing facility for up to 125 families at 78-16 Cooper Ave., a long-defunct Glendale factory.
Protests erupted in June after the DHS began using the former Pan American Hotel at 79-00 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst as an emergency shelter, with families being housed with little advanced notice provided to local elected officials and Queens Community Board 4.
Reportedly, the DHS was slated to open an emergency shelter in Far Rockaway this month, but delayed it following protests from Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and City Council Member Donovan Richards.
“The [DHS] is failing to provide the homeless with opportunities to become independent,” Goldfeder wrote on his Twitter account, @YPGoldfeder, on Monday, Oct. 20. “Opening more shelters is perpetuating the problem!”
Goldfeder’s sentiments were echoed in previous weeks by other Queens lawmakers and residents who claim the city’s homeless shelter policy is a disservice to the families served and places an undue burden on communities.