College Point and Whitestone residents will hold a second rally this weekend to convince the city and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to reconsider their decision to build a men’s homeless shelter in the neighborhood.
Members of community Facebook groups have been spreading the word about the upcoming protest which is set for Sunday, Dec. 2, at noon.
Residents were encouraged on Nov. 25 to hand out fliers to neighbors, which advertised the shelter rally as well as the monthly College Point Civic meeting on Wednesday night, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m., where more information would be shared.
“College Point & Whitestone are joining forces to protest against this shelter that was not even discussed with our local leaders!!!” read the flier.
“Please continue to spread the word of the coming homeless shelter,” wrote Rex Lam in the College Point Facebook group. “During the flyer hand out today, I came across many who were unaware but very concerned. If you can reach 5 [people] and they each reach 5, the word will spread.”
Elected officials also continued to vehemently speak out against the transitional shelter which DHS confirmed will house 200 men who are from College Point.
Councilman Paul Vallone issued a written statement on Nov. 28 charging that the “Administration’s failure” in dealing with homelessness in the city “should not allow one corrupt owner to sell out College Point.”
“Establishing a 200-bed men’s homeless shelter along 20th Avenue would be misguided and irresponsible,” said Vallone. “A facility of this nature, serving the city’s most vulnerable populations, should be positioned in a location that has the appropriate infrastructure, transportation options and medical facilities, and not in a neighborhood that is already overburdened with municipal services.”
Dozens came together for the Oct. 29 rally organized by the councilman and a petition created by Vallone on Nov. 16 has garnered nearly 2,500 signatures.
Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal also issued a statement confirming that on Nov. 8, the Department of Buildings conducted a formal audit of 127-03 20th Ave. at his request. Rosenthal asked for the audit back on Oct. 23 after his office examined permits that David Levitan, co-owner of real estate company Liberty One Group, had filed which “indicated renovation for a shelter type facility, while the occupancy certificate and plan details used language that suggested commercial use.”
Paperwork from the audit showed “intent to use the space as a storage facility” according to Rosenthal’s office, but it also showed plans for an office space, laundry rooms and bathrooms.
The audit also found that some of the proposals went against the currently zoned Use Group 16 and O.G. S-2 storage facility code, including conference rooms, office space and the proposed number of bathrooms and laundry facilities.
DHS confirmed that the homeless shelter could be up and running as early as September 2019.