Church in Ridgewood working with local lawmaker to provide sleeping quarters for homeless residents

Photo: Dean Moses

The push to establish a “bed stabilization program” for homeless in Ridgewood is advancing after a man died in the Nov. 16 snowstorm.

Arkadiusz Jasinski, better known as Arek, was on the minds of Father Mike Lopez of All Saints Old Catholic Church and Councilman Robert Holden as they work to house 12 to 15 people at Covenant Lutheran Church in Ridgewood.

The two had spent part of last week paying tribute to the 40-year-old who was held in high regard in Ridgewood as a down-on-his-luck construction trade worker from Poland. Neighborhood ministries organized a burial for Jasinski in Long Island on Dec. 13 and a memorial service on Dec. 14.

“This is exactly the type of program that I believe is the best solution to the homelessness crisis in our city,” Holden said. “I have discussed this with DHS, and the unfortunate death of one of Father Lopez’s patrons has gotten the agency’s attention as well. We will continue working toward a faith-based solution so that Arek Jasinski’s death is not in vain.”

According to Lopez, the 12 to 15 beds will go a long way toward bringing relief to the visible street homeless in the surrounding areas, which have been the epicenter of opposition to homeless shelters by the city.

But there are about 20 to 30 street homeless in the Ridgewood area who still need a roof during the winter months, Lopez said. To meet that demand, he intends to partner with other churches and nonprofits.

The initiative is moving fast and has only been accelerating since Jasinski’s death.

Lopez anticipates the program to begin at the beginning of 2019 and is partnering with a not-for-profit to provide support to people who will be staying at the church.

A GoFundMe has been set up after Jasinski’s death to raise cash for the bed stabilization program and has raised $4,810 of the $25,000 goal.

Lopez and All Saints already provide outreach to the homeless through the Hungry Monk Rescue Truck, which had served hot meals to Jasinski for years.

Communities of southwestern Queens have been gradually begun accepting facilities that accommodate the homeless under certain circumstances, a contrast to years prior when protests to the conversion of the Maspeth Holiday Inn and other locations shook relations between residents and the de Blasio administration.

But there is still controversy surrounding the placement of large-scale shelters in western Queens in recent months, as demonstrated after the city Department of Homeless Services opened three shelters in Blissville, a five-block community in the Long Island City.

An all-men’s facility in Ozone Park over the summer saw one man, Sam Esposito, launch a hunger strike against the plan.

Community Board 5, at their December meeting, gave a not-for-profit its blessing to build 66 units of housing for homeless, at-risk families and low-income residents in Glendale, and the city Board of Standards and Appeals will come to a final decision on the variance.

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