College Point residents to take on City Hall over proposed homeless shelter

By Jenna Bagcal

College Point residents are taking their homeless shelter fight to City Hall.

In keeping with the momentum of the last few months, hundreds of local residents against the controversial men’s shelter will head to Manhattan on Jan. 13 to voice their concerns to the city.

Since residents first heard about the shelter this past October, people from College Point have been joined by neighbors in Whitestone, Flushing and Bayside for meetings, rallies and letter-writing campaigns in an attempt to stop the shelter from coming to at 127-03 20th Ave.

“College Point will be heard and taken seriously!” reads the flier advertising the upcoming protest. Rally organizers — known as A Better College Point — urged participants to sign up at abettercollegepoint.com to get contact information and an accurate headcount prior to the event.

Residents have argued that a lack of a hospital, limited public transportation and an abundance of school-aged children make their town ill-equipped to handle a shelter. Detractors added that affordable housing would be a more viable option for the 200 prospective men who will live in the shelter.

Now, the College Point Residents’ Coalition Inc. and A Better College Point are spearheading a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for their legal campaign. As of Jan. 8, the campaign has amassed $1,635 of its $100,000 goal which will go toward hiring a lawyer against the city and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

According to the campaign description, residents said they are “willing to sit down with [the] city and DHS officials to address the controversy and work out a solution which will benefit everyone.” But in the event that the agencies fail to meet with residents “then we will continue to fundraise for a lawyer and then meet them in court.”

DHS said that the College Point Shelter is part of the mayor’s “Turning the Tide on Homelessness” plan that would allow homeless individuals to be sheltered in their home boroughs. The “borough-based approach” would also encourage the closure of the 360 cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities citywide in favor of smaller shelter facilities in each borough.

“The city and not-for-profit social service provider partner Westhab are opening this facility as soon as possible to give individuals experiencing homelessness from Queens the opportunity to be closer to the communities they called home as they get back on their feet. We are ensuring the building is ready for occupancy, finalizing all required reviews, and expect to open this facility this fall after all has been completed,” said DHS spokesperson Arianna Fishman.

The protest at City Hall is on Sunday, Jan. 13 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

TimesLedger reached out to A Better College Point and the mayor’s office and is currently awaiting responses.

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