By Juan Soto
Bayside is off the radar of the city Department of Homeless Services.
At least that is what City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayisde) said. He was referring to concerns that the city agency was studying the possibility of establishing an emergency homeless shelter in the Bayside area.
The lawmaker wrote a letter Oct. 21 to DHS “to voice my objections to that proposal as it is unacceptable to me and my constituents.”
In response, DHS wrote back this month that the agency “has no plans for a shelter in Bayside at this time.”
Commissioner Gilbert Taylor’s agency said New York City “is facing a shelter capacity crisis which necessitates looking at every viable site throughout the five boroughs.”
Vallone pointed out Bayside is one of the most residential places in the city. He said the neighborhood is very low density, “composed almost entirely of one- and two-story homes with very few commercial establishments.”
He also mentioned a “dearth of transportation options,” which would mean that homeless people sent to a shelter in Bayside “would have no
easy access to other services.”
When Bayside came up in a list of possible shelter locations, Community Board 11 rejected the idea.
“We will keep an eye on this. That’s the only thing we can do until there is some sort of announcement,” Susan Seinfeld, CB 11 district manager, said last month. “I don’t think anyone would be happy about this proposal.”
In this month’s CB meeting, the board also discussed DHS’s plans not to look at Bayside as a possible homeless shelter site.
DHS has plans to create new emergency shelters in Queens. For now, the only neighborhood being specifically mentioned by name is Far Rockaway, where residents and leaders oppose the idea.
And DHS began the process to establish as permanent homeless shelters the old Pan Am hotel in Elmhurst and the West way hotel in east Elmhurst.
The agency said it is necessary to increase the number of shelters.
“The number of people entering shelters continues to exceed the number of existing (spaces),caused by factors such as eviction, domestic violence, and the lack of affordable housing coupled with low wages,” DHS said in response to the lawmaker’s concerns.
Vallone thanked the city agency for “listening to our concerns and deciding to abandon plans for an emergency shelter in Bayside.”
He added, “My district not only has the lowest population of homeless persons in the whole city, but Bayside in particular lacks the infrastructure and public transportation options to support an emergency shelter.”
Vallone said he was glad to see DHS considered “these obstacles and concerns, and came to agree that Bayside is an inappropriate location.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4564.