College Point residents continued their relentless fight on Sunday against the city’s planned 200-bed men’s shelter as the deadline for its September opening looms near.
On Feb. 24, A Better College Point and the CP Residents’ Coalition (CPRC) gathered with hundreds of community members and northeast Queens lawmakers at a pop-up rally outside of the shelter site, at 127-03 20th Ave.
This latest rally comes fresh off the heels of the College Point Civic and Taxpayers Association rally on Feb. 16 and, two days prior to that affair, a press conference organized by longtime shelter opposers Senator John Liu, Assemblyman Dan Rosenthal and Councilman Paul Vallone.
“We need to stay organized. Don’t listen to the people who keep telling you, ‘Oh, it’s a done deal.’ Ignore them. Educate them,” CPRC spokesperson Jennifer Shannon said at the Feb. 24 rally.
“Under the dark of night, the city, the de Blasio administration have put this institution … without letting anybody in the community know about it, and making us believe that it’s a done deal. Jennifer is absolutely right: nothing is a done deal,” added Liu.
Shannon encouraged the crowd to continue writing letters to Governor Cuomo despite a lack of support from the state official.
“This is going up to our governor, who is ignoring us. Many of you have written the governor and you get back a nice little letter that says, ‘Sorry, can’t help you, talk to the city.’ Last time I checked, I lived in New York and he represents me,” Shannon said.
At the beginning of February, concerned residents from all across New York City formed the “5 Boro Coalition” to fight the 90 homeless shelters the city plans to create over the next five years.
According to Shannon, who serves as the Queens coalition chair, the board members are trying to get legislation passed that will help keep people in need in their homes.
“You cannot fight this in College Point. We can’t fight it in Ozone Park. We can’t fight it in Queens. No one’s listening,” said Ozone Park resident and 5 Boro Coalition President Sam Esposito. “But if we fight it collectively as the five boroughs … they’re gonna hear us loud and clear and they’re gonna come to us and they’re gonna work with us on solutions to the problem.”
Also at Sunday’s rally was public advocate candidate Manny Alicandro, who just recently became vocal about his opposition to the shelter.
“It’s very, very important that we keep up the pressure. We can’t stop the pressure,” Alicandro said. “We have to be concerned about the safety of our communities. We have to be concerned about the safety of our children.”