Members of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) are ready to protest after an unconfirmed rumor that a former factory on the Glendale/Middle Village border is finally primed to house 200 homeless men.
Glendale resident Mike Papa claimed the site is going to accommodate what he termed “the worst of the worst” during his Thursday night announcement at the JPCA meeting in Middle Village’s Our Lady of Hope School. The community is now organizing a rally outside the Long Island home of Michael Wilner, who owns the defunct factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave. For years, the city and community have clashed over plans to turn the site into a homeless shelter for up to 200 people.
“All single men — 200 single men — mostly ex-cons some sexual offenders. That’s the population that is being put in there; that’s not a rumor,” Papa said. “The work at the site has been full speed ahead, framing and building … They gain procurement from the city and the only thing left for them to do at this point is to give the community board 30 days’ notice and the facility opens … At that point there is nothing that we can do about it. We cannot let it get to this point.”
A spokesman for Councilman Robert Holden, who has been pushing to place a District 75 school for children with disabilities at Cooper Avenue instead, told QNS there is not currently any contract with the city for a homeless shelter.
“We support our constituents coming together to push back against the property owner, who is only concerned about making money with no regard to the community,” a spokesman for Holden said. “But ultimately it is not up to the property owner if a shelter is going there or not. It’s up to the city, and there has been no contract for a shelter put forth by the city. The councilman continues to push for a school at the location and is regularly communicating with the relevant city agencies.”
The property owner, Michael Wilner, has filed applications with the city Department of Buildings to have a facility built and was in talks with the city Department of Homeless Services at one time allowing them to view the space.
In August, Wilner submitted an amendment to the application of existing work to include a “transient lodging house” which had not yet been approved as of January, according to the Department of Buildings.
A DOB spokesman said the application amendment has not moved forward.
DHS has launched its Turning of the Tide on Homelessness initiative, which aims to phase out hotel conversions and establish shelters in community board districts from which homeless individuals originate.
The plan is to place individuals near family and friend support networks to rehabilitate the sum 63,000 to 70,000 homeless people.
“Every neighborhood, every community board that sends people into the shelter system should have as close as possible to a representative amount of shelter in that area. And that’s what we’re going to do one way or another,” de Blasio said on “Inside City Hall with Errol Lewis” on March 18.
Attendees at the civic association meeting erupted in applause when Papa said he went to Wilner’s home and and place of employment to confront him about his alleged intent to build a shelter.
Papa is organizing rally with three buses scheduled to pick up potential protestors at the 78-16 Cooper Ave. on April 13 at 8 a.m.