By Jenna Bagcal
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) confirmed Thursday that a controversial men’s shelter will open in College Point next year.
The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) spoke to Vallone Nov. 14 and notified him that they would be moving forward with the proposed shelter at 127-03 20th Ave.
According to the Vallone, the shelter could come as early as next September.
“Our fears were confirmed that 127-03 20th Avenue has been approved for use as a homeless shelter as early as September 2019,” Vallone said. “David Levitan’s greed sold out all of College Point for profit over the needs of our entire community.”
“This is a site that was deliberately purchased and converted for use as a homeless shelter — a despicable act by one owner who has no regard for the communities he infiltrates. We will continue to fight and stand with College Point,” he added.
Residents heard rumors about a homeless shelter potentially coming to the area at the Oct. 24 College Point Civic and Taxpayers Association meeting.
State Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing) informed residents that he wrote a letter to Queens Borough Commissioner Derek Lee after noticing that the Department of Buildings records showed “shelter-type renovations” for the property.
On Oct. 25, Vallone revealed that the Mayor’s administration and DHS submitted a proposal for the site to be turned into a shelter. He also learned that the agencies had an open request for proposal (RFP) to build other homeless shelters across the city. Five days later, the community came together to protest the shelter.
“Homeless New Yorkers come from every community across the five boroughs, so we need every community to come together to address homelessness,” DHS spokesperson Arianna Fishman said in a written statement. “As we implement our borough-based approach, we are ending the use of all cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities citywide, including the two commercial hotel facilities in this Community District, and distributing new high-quality facilities more equitably across the five boroughs.”
According to Fishman, the “high-quality facility” will provide housing for 200 Queens men in order for them to be closer to “support networks and communities they called home as they get back on their feet.”
“Working together with neighbors and nonprofit service provider Westhab we’re confident that these individuals will be warmly welcomed — and through collaborative support and compassion, we will make this the best experience it can be for these individuals as they get back on their feet,” Fishman added.
Levitan’s company, One Liberty Group,did not immediately respond to a request for comment.