Councilman I. Daneek Miller’s district has the most homeless shelters in Queens — the 10th most in the entire city — and, for a while, many thought another one was on the way.
Rumors circulated around Miller’s southeast Queens district that the city planned to transform six recently renovated buildings on Hollis Avenue between 202nd and 204th streets in Hollis into a homeless shelter for men. The city has since openly announced plans to build instead housing for veterans and seniors.
Even so, the rumor triggered outrage in the community that the city would think of creating another shelter in the district at a site within a three-block radius of numerous schools, day care centers, churches, a public library and a playground. It also served as a reminder to Miller that the city’s “fair share” policy — which requires the supposedly equitable placement of homeless shelters, waste processing centers and other municipal service facilities citywide — is flawed and needs a major overhaul.
According to Miller, 53 percent of homeless shelters are within 10 of the city’s 51 community districts; four community districts also handle 80 percent of the city’s permitted waste capacity.
“Certain communities throughout the five boroughs are saddled time and again with the weight of these responsibilities and then left in the lurch without proper notification or support to provide such services,” Miller said in a statement on Wednesday, Jan. 27. “New Yorkers are crying out a holistic approach to the principles of fair share when it comes to public policy. We must make sure that services are being delivered and derived equitably.”
To that end, Miller called on the city pass a “fair share reform package” designed to have more of the city share more of the municipal burdens. The package includes the Community Notification Act (Intro. 906), which requires the city to properly notify a community where it intends to provide housing at social service facilities; the Waste Equity Bill (Intro. 495), which mandates that the city more fairly distribute solid waste management facilities across the entire city; and Intro. 886, which calls on the city to develop an environmental justice plan that includes forming a committee to examine and remediate various environmental concerns in the city.
Miller made the call on the same day Queens Community Board 12 members rallied on the steps of City Hall calling for city to adopt its resolution that would place a moratorium on creating new homeless shelters in their district.
“The load that Community Board 12 bears is an injustice that was not created overnight, and it is one shared with select districts throughout the city across a variety of services,” Miller said. “Today, we welcome the attention of all those who recognize and seek to remedy this injustice. We welcome all support as we address an issue of consequence in providing service equity to communities throughout the city.”