Group home for people with autism coming to Jamaica Estates

By Madina Toure

A community residence for young men with developmental disabilities is coming to Jamaica Estates in October.

Quality Services for the Autism Community, a New York-based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, will create and run an individualized residential alternative for eight men with autism in their early 20s at 84-10 Kent St., according to Cory Polshansky, QSAC’s chief operating officer.

The group home is scheduled to open during the first week of October, Polshansky said.

Community Board 8 said a site evaluation conducted by an independent architect determined the location is suitable for the home.

The men, who are all from the area, currently live in residential schools and are moving back home now that they have graduated, Polshansky said, noting that the organization has served some of them for many years.

The organization looked at about 85 homes before they were able to find a spot, he said.

“You really need to find homes that aren’t within a close distance to another home and there are just many homes so it disqualifies more than half the homes you’re looking for,” he said.

Mark Lefkof, chairman of Area 7, which includes Holliswood, Jamaica Estates and the southern portion of Cunningham Park, held an informational hearing on the proposal. CB 8 member Martha Taylor, District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide, Polshansky and staff member Alma Karassavidis were also present.

Adam-Ovide said the board could not vote on the proposal because it believes former state Sen. Frank Padavan’s site selection law contradicts the Americans with Disabilities Act—a policy that the board has followed since 2012.

And the office is not equipped to find another location for the residence, she said.

“We cannot discriminate against anyone on the basis of disability,” she said. “So if we’re voting, ‘Yes, you can house people with disabilities’ or ‘No, you can’t house people with disabilities,’ we are making a decision based on the sole fact that they have disabilities.”

The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities decides whether a group home can be placed in a given area.

CB 8 sent a letter to the state agency stating that QSAC has agreed to install a security alarm, hire a landscaper and ensure that garbage is set out for collection and that snow is removed by the city Department of Sanitation.

“The board trusts that the agency, that QSAC abides by the promises it made to the community,” Adam-Ovide said.

Polshansky said the organization is allowed to proceed with building the home after giving the board 40 days’ notice.

“While they don’t vote, that’s basically indicating no objection to the home,” he said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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