City agency eyes College Point site as a possible homeless shelter, elected officials say (UPDATED)

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A local councilman confirmed that a proposal has been submitted for a rumored homeless shelter in College Point.

On Oct. 25, Councilman Paul Vallone revealed that the Mayor’s Administration confirmed that both the City and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) had submitted a proposal for the site at 127-03 20th Ave. to be turned into a homeless shelter. Both authorities also have an open request for proposal (RFP) to build other homeless shelters across the city.

“As we’ve seen time and time again, the DHS is acting with a complete lack of community involvement, foregoing any input or dialogue with our civic leaders and elected officials,” said Vallone in a statement. “This wanton disregard for the effect on our community cannot stand. Not only does College Point lack the infrastructure and transportation options to support this type of development, this proposed shelter would be within close proximity to the three College Point local schools and over 2,000 children. So to make it very clear to the DHS, I am against this, our community is against this, and we will not sit idly by while they make their determination.”

Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal addressed a letter to Queens Borough Commissioner Derek Lee on Oct. 23, requesting a formal audit of the property “after noting several Department of Building permits at 127-03 20th Avenue that indicated shelter type renovations.” The City confirmed Rosenthal’s suspicions and the assemblyman decried the DHS’ actions and called the City to reject the proposal in a statement on Oct. 26.

“Once again, DHS has shown complete disregard for transparency and reason,” said Rosenthal. “College Point is increasingly overdeveloped while it is constantly overlooked for investment by the City. The community lacks the resources, infrastructure and ability to support a proposed shelter.”

Rosenthal added that “It would be a great disservice to our vulnerable populations to be placed in a location without ample public transportation, which denies access to opportunity resources or proper medical care facilities. I call on the City to reject this proposal and do the right thing for both our residents and homeless population.”

State Senator Tony Avella also called on the mayor’s administration to reject the shelter proposal. In an Oct. 26 letter addressed to Mayor de Blasio, the Human Resources Administration and the Department of Buildings, Avella mentioned that College Point already has more than its fair share of municipal services” including  the NYPD Academy, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Sanitation facilities.

“The result is limited parking for taxpaying residents, constant traffic, illegal conversions and general overdevelopment,” said the senator. “It is time the City of New York listens to its residents prior to any final decisions made regarding any homeless shelters being placed in their community.”

Residents had heard during the College Point Civic and Taxpayers Association meeting on Oct. 24 that a homeless shelter was set to rise in their neighborhood. Those who attended said that elected officials at the meeting spoke about the rumors and set plans for a future protest.

Members in the College Point Facebook group expressed outrage and feared that their quality of life would be disrupted. Proximity to local schools was one of the main areas of concern. According to residents, the shelter would be located blocks away from schools like P.S. 29, P.S. 129, the newly opened M.S. 379 and the District 25 Pre-K Center.”They have been planning this for a while. This will bring trouble to the neighborhood,” wrote one user.

“What happened to ‘it won’t happen in College Point because we aren’t near services needed to support a homeless shelter?’ This is ridiculous and infuriating!!!” wrote another.

College Point has had its fair share of rumors surrounding potential homeless shelters going up in the area. Back in May hundreds of College Point residents showed up to the monthly civic meeting to protest a homeless shelter that was rumored to be coming to 18th Avenue and 128th Street. The rumors stemmed from news that a private developer had plans to build a six-story hotel structure in the area.

Back then, elected officials, including Vallone, state Senator Tony Avella and Congressman Joe Crowley denied that a homeless shelter was coming to College Point, saying that the neighborhood was “not the right area” for a homeless shelter to exist.

Crowley told QNS at the time that “College Point currently has the infrastructure or accessibility to social services programs that would be needed to properly care and support a homeless shelter.”

QNS reached out to DHS for comment and is awaiting a response.

Story updated on Friday, Oct. 26 at 12:55 p.m. to reflect the comments of Rosenthal and Avella. 

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