City’s proposed homeless shelter in Far Rockaway met with resistance from local leaders

Screen Shot 2020-11-16 at 2.41.44 PM
Photo via Google Maps

Despite pushback from local leaders, the city is moving forward with its plans to build a new shelter for homeless families in Far Rockaway under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide” initiative.

The initiative, aimed to end decades-old stop-gap measures such as using cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities, will see the new shelter will be built in place of the Far Rockaway Cathedral church at 1252 Brunswick Ave.

“As we implement our borough-based approach, we are ending the inefficient stop-gap facilities citywide while opening high-quality facilities New Yorkers in need deserve as they stabilize their lives,” NYC DSS-DHS said in a statement. “This high-quality, borough-based facility will be the first of its kind in this Community District, offering 72 adult families experiencing homelessness the opportunity to get back on their feet safely and closer to their anchors of life. Working together with neighbors and not-for-profit provider Black Vets for Social Justice, we’re confident that these new Yorkers will be warmly welcomed and through collaborative support and compassion, we will make this the best experience it can be for all.”

According to the city, there are 489 households comprised of 984 individuals from Queens Community District 14 in shelters across the city, however, there are only 831 sheltered in CD 14.

The new facility at 12-52 Brunswick Ave. will provide 72 homeless adult families the opportunity to be sheltered in their home borough, closer to their support networks including schools, jobs, healthcare, family, social services and communities they call home.

“The Rockaway Peninsula has many needs, but a seventh homeless shelter is not one of them,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “I strongly oppose the proposed shelter at 1252 Brunswick Ave. in Far Rockaway.”

“Let’s be clear, this has nothing to do with the compassion of our community towards families in need of housing and additional services. The city is completely shortsighted by placing families in a geographically and economically isolated community and should explore other options to better serve and assist these families, ” Pheffer Amato added. “Placing families and individuals on a peninsula with already overburdened social services infrastructure, and insufficient employment and transportation options will create an additional obstacle. The city cannot continue to rely on the Rockaway Peninsula as they fail to come up with a comprehensive plan to adequately solve the homeless crisis in New York City at the root. I am working closely with community leaders and my colleagues in government to work towards alternative outcomes.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo made many of the same points in making his opposition clear to the proposed shelter.

“While we all support assisting homeless individuals, putting a large capacity homeless shelter — this one located at 1252 Brunswick Ave. — the seventh on the peninsula, without any community input, is not the right way to do it,” Addabbo said. “We have witnessed the mayor’s administration fall far short of achieving its goal of providing the services homeless individuals need to get back on their feet, with large populations being warehoused at inefficient locations, with a site selection process that does not allow for any helpful outside input, ideas or suggestions. The Rockaways have always faced a unique set of challenges by being geographically isolated from the rest of Queens, and it is not fair to the community residents and businesses, as well as those facing homelessness, to place another shelter in this area. I will continue working with the local community and government officials to address this issue.”

The new facility is the 76th shelter to be sited under the mayor’s “Turning the Tide” plan and is expected to open in 2022. Of the 76 sited shelters, 41 of them are open and operational and currently serving New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.