Councilman Robert Holden said that he will meet with Mayor Bill de Blasio this week about renewed plans for a homeless shelter in Glendale.
Late on Monday, Holden issued a statement reiterating community opposition to a shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave., a former factory. Five years ago, the city announced plans to convert the long-dormant facility into a shelter for homeless families, but after heated opposition from the community and altered building plans, the city announced in January of this year it no longer had a plan in place for the site.
Then last week, rumors began circulating on a local Facebook group that another proposal had emerged to transform the factory into a homeless shelter for men. Holden confirmed on July 27 that the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is indeed working on a proposal to house up to 200 homeless men at the site.
“After speaking to DHS Commissioner Steven Banks on Friday morning, and on Friday night, and with Mayor de Blasio on Sunday, I relayed that area residents would, in no way, accept a large, out-of-character homeless shelter at the proposed location,” Holden said in his July 30 statement.
He then added that “the mayor asked to meet with myself and Commissioner Banks this week to discuss this location, which I welcome, as I would like to relay to them why this location is unsuitable and needs to be off the table.”
In the past, Holden — while opposing the first shelter plan as president of the Juniper Park Civic Association — argued that the commercial facility required too much resources to be properly converted into a shelter. There were also concerns about the site’s environmental state, as it had been used for heavy industry long ago and is located in close proximity to a chemical storage facility.
Holden said he would also host town halls “pending consultation with the administration” about the proposal and that he would “do everything in my power to defeat this senseless and inappropriate proposal to place a men’s homeless shelter in Glendale.”
“I have fought against this location in the past and will continue to do so; this is unacceptable,” he added.
State Senator Joe Addabbo, who opposed the first Glendale homeless shelter proposal and is currently fighting another homeless shelter planned for Ozone Park, issued a statement on Tuesday blasting the mayor’s office for “yet another ill-conceived homeless shelter plan in our community.”
“After we thought that the Cooper Avenue site was off the table, the Department of Homeless Services has now apparently brought it back into the discussion and looks to be headed towards trying to open a shelter there,” Addabbo said. “I stand with my constituents and am appalled at the mayor’s complete lack of transparency, not just with the Cooper Avenue site, but also with many other sites across Queens — including the Ozone Park shelter proposal.”
Addabbo stressed that he would “make it clear that the mayor cannot just come into our neighborhoods and plop homeless shelters in inadequate locations and with little to no services to help the homeless transition out of these shelters.”
“This fight has just begun,” he concluded.