Cuomo’s administration drops idea to house homeless at Creedmoor

By Tom Momberg

In response to concerns from community advocates and elected officials in eastern Queens who were up in arms over discussions by the governor to house homeless at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, he has nixed the idea.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration did not respond to requests for confirmation on the matter, but state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said the idea is going no further.

Last week city and state legislators told the TimesLedger that the governor informed them that the idea was only brought up in discussion between homeless advocates and his administration as part of a larger initiative to address the city’s growing homeless population.

City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) and Avella, whose districts include Creedmoor both said the governor told them he was scrapping the idea.

Because the Creemoor campus is on state-owned land, there is no way for the city to expand its homeless services there without the state’s approval and oversight.

However, the mayor’s administration said it would look forward to hearing any state plans to assist the city in housing or preventing homelessness and would welcome any additional resources.

Several buildings at Creedmoor are used by independent mental health and homeless services that are contracted with the state to work with inpatient and outpatient programs at the hospital and provide services to a few hundred homeless people already.

The idea was brought up by homeless advocates because there are plenty of vacant buildings, and many state services already offered on site could work in conjunction with a shelter.

But due to a history of security issues at Creedmoor and community concerns over potential violence and crime, the plans are dead in the water, Avella said.

“When I originally came across the rumor that the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center was being considered for housing the homeless, I reasoned that there was no way such an awful proposal could be taken seriously, but experience told me that worse ideas have been considered,” Avella said. “After several calls, I can confirm that the governor’s office has no intention in using this facility to house the homeless population.”

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.