Owner of new Glendale shelter has complaints with other building he owns: City board

By Eric Jankiewicz

The owners of Glendale’s soon to be homeless shelter have experience with owning residential buildings. They also have experience with complaints.

The city Department of Buildings approved permits in early March to turn the empty factory on 78-16 Cooper Ave. into transitional housing – a sore point for the surrounding Glendale community. Samaritan Village will run the shelter, but the owner of the building is the estate of Joseph Wilner.

The estate also owns a building in Kew Gardens that has amassed dozens of open, unresolved violations, according to the city agency Housing Preservation and Development. And many of these violations are considered hazardous by the city, which raises questions about how well maintained the homeless shelter will be.

Many of the open and hazardous violations issued to the apartment building on 119-14 Union Turnpike deal with rodent infestations, defective electric outlets and broken lights. Many of the violations were issued several times, yet the estate of Joseph Wilner has not fixed the problem.

The estate of Joseph Wilner is made up of Joseph Wilner and Rywa Wilner, according to Department of Building records. In 2008 an elderly tenant from the Kew Gardens apartment building sued Rywa after she fell on stairs that were poorly lit, according to court records.

Violations for poorly lit areas and broken lights go back to 1996 and they were never solved, according to HPD. The lawsuit made it all the way to Kings County Civil Supreme Court before it was finally settled before the trial began.

Glendale’s new homeless shelter will have 103 units, filling 74,542 square feet, according to the filings with the Buildings Department. The four-story building will also include a parking lot with 33 vehicles.

The Department of Homeless Services has a pending five-year contract with Samaritan Village to operate the homeless shelter, according to a spokesman for the department. Residents and local officials have continued to resist the placement of the shelter in their Glendale neighborhood.

Neither Joseph nor Rywa Wilner returned repeated requests for comment. The Department of Homeless Services did not respond in time.

The Samaritan Village also operates the Pan American homeless shelter in Elmhurst, which has had its own rodent infestation problem. The civic group Elmhurst United complained about a trash and rat problem, which has stopped the city from approving the shelter’s $42 million contract.

Reach reporter Eric Jankiewicz by e-mail at ejankiewicz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.