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Photo: Robert Pozarycki/QNS
The former factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale is shown undergoing renovation in this April 2019 photo.

A week after a judge dismissed a lawsuit aimed at halting construction of the proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) sent out a statement that the shelter had opened Friday. 

After hearing the news last week, the group of Glendale residents who had launched the legal challenge still hoped that they could stop the construction through objections they filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB) alleging the proposed shelter would violate its current zoning requirements.

A DHS spokesperson said Friday that those issues have been resolved over the last week. 

 “Today, we proudly open our doors at the Cooper Rapid Rehousing Center, the first and only transitional housing facility in the Maspeth/Glendale community, which is now providing high-quality shelter and dedicated employment services to single adult men experiencing homelessness as they work hard to restabilize their lives. We look forward to welcoming and supporting more neighbors in need at this location over the next few weeks. Working together with service provider Westhab and the community, through collaborative support and compassion, we’re confident that we will make this the best experience it can be for these individuals as they get back on their feet.”

The facility welcomed about 10 individuals on its opening day. It will gradually increase the number of residents over the coming weeks, according to the DHS. 

The agency is also in the process of setting up a community advisory group that will act as a communication bridge between residents and the facility. Once established, the group will provide a phone line for the community to call.

Meanwhile, Councilman Robert Holden, who has rallied against the shelter, along with the Glendale-Middle Village Coalition, said in a Facebook post Friday evening that the fight to keep the shelter out of Glendale is not over.

“When my chief of staff, Daniel Kurzyna, spoke with Deputy Commissioner Matt Borden of the DHS, he was told that they moved in men last night without a contract because Comptroller Scott Stringer had given the green light and the contract ‘was ready to go.’ When contacting the Comptroller’s office, we were told that no contract had been registered or signed and that what the DHS was doing was not approved by them,” Holden wrote.

“I spoke directly with DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca and her staff earlier today and asked how and why the property was granted a temporary certificate of occupancy, considering there is an ongoing audit of the plans and permits, with fourteen challenges, two of which are safety issues. The DOB claims that they did their due diligence in granting the temporary certificate of occupancy and will continue the audit,” Holden continued.

“Considering the challenges that the Glendale-Middle Village Coalition filed would likely delay the full shelter from opening by six to twelve months, the DHS opted for placement using a temporary certificate of occupancy. This is the DHS’s disgraceful attempt at circumventing the legal process that is currently underway from the Glendale community. No contract has yet been signed, and there are still legal actions on DOB grounds. This fight is not over, despite the DHS acting as a rogue agency and usurping laws, regulations, and process,” he wrote.

This is a developing story and QNS will update it as we receive more information. 

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