Councilman James Gennaro announced on Friday, Aug. 26, that the city has reached a compromise to house homeless senior men aged 55 years and older at the proposed Briarwood shelter that is expected to open in the fall.
The announcement comes following several months of discussions with Mayor Eric Adams’ administration, according to Gennaro.
This is a significant change from the city’s original plans for the shelter, which would have placed 175 adult males of all ages in the facility, located at 138-50 Queens Blvd.
Gennaro thanked the Adams administration and the city Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for listening to the community’s concerns and working with his office assiduously to reimagine the shelter so that it is a better fit for the neighborhood.
“This is a major victory for the Briarwood community. While I understand that this compromise will not please everyone, this shelter service provider has been under contract with the city since the de Blasio administration. This contract was entered into without the input of my office or the community,” Gennaro said. “Given the totality of the circumstances, the shelter for senior homeless men is a much better alternative for Briarwood. I am confident that, under the careful, strict and watchful eyes of the service provider, Westhab, this shelter will be a considerate neighbor all while helping the city’s most vulnerable population.”
The shelter was met with opposition from community members who rallied in front of the location in January 2021. An online petition was also launched to stop the homeless shelter from coming to Briarwood.
The new shelter will offer 24/7 security on-site and will enforce an 11 p.m. curfew. The shelter will still offer 175 beds and will prioritize residents from Council District 24.
In addition to negotiations regarding the shelter population, the Adams administration and DHS have agreed to Gennaro’s request for a special advisory board that would meet regularly with shelter staff and DHS to discuss any community concerns. Additional details regarding this advisory board are TBD.
To ensure the community is kept in the loop on plans for the shelter, Gennaro, DHS and the Adams administration will host a virtual town hall on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m. The town hall is limited to 100 people. Briarwood residents who wish to participate in the virtual town hall must RSVP by calling Gennaro’s office at 718-217-4969.
Residents will also have the opportunity to submit questions regarding the shelter in advance of the town hall by emailing Natalia Kozikowska at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5.