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Shelter-hating Queens neighborhood to get two new homeless shelters, New York City officials say

2019-08-23

78-16 Cooper Ave in Queens will be the site of a new homeless shelter.

Central Queens residents who thought they successfully beat back city plans to place a homeless shelter in their area should think again.

Now, they’re getting two.

The move comes despite years of opposition from Maspeth residents who yelled at officials, protested outside a top city official’s home and even flipped a local council district to a Republican.

One facility, to be located at 78-16 Cooper Ave. just outside Maspeth, will house 200 single adults. The other, at 1616 Summerfield St. in Ridgewood, will be for 132 families with children.

“While the narrative is that communities oppose shelters, the reality is that most communities have accepted the opening of shelters because we’re providing the ability to shelter people from that area,” Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks told the Daily News.

The Cooper Avenue shelter, scheduled to open early next year, replaces a temporary shelter that had been located at a Holiday Inn Express. Like the temporary shelter, the new facility will emphasize getting residents employed. It will be run by Westhab, a Westchester-based non-profit.

The Summerfield Street shelter will open by end of 2020 and is aimed at enabling homeless Queens children to continue to go to their neighborhood schools, Banks said. CORE Services Group, which has worked with the city on other shelters, will run this one.

The Department of Social Services promised to establish “community advisory boards” that will work with residents in the area.

And the work could be hard labor.

Nearly 1,000 Queens residents raised an outcry during a summer 2016 meeting on a possible shelter in Maspeth, with one angry activist saying, "It should not be the responsibility of Maspeth taxpayers to house the entire world.”

In 2017, Elizabeth Crowley lost her city council seat representing Maspeth to Robert Holden, who campaigned on a platform of hardcore opposition to homeless shelters.

And in March, Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich of south-central Queens led a protest outside Banks’s home.

The shelter for single adults will be the first one to come to Holden’s district. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

The site for families with kids will be on Councilman Antonio Reynoso’s turf. He has ardently welcomed shelters.

“We all have to do our part in this city when it comes to the crisis we have related to housing and the shelters,” he told the News.

“You would never hear me or see me speak negatively about the need for shelters in the City of New York.”

The shelters are part of the de Blasio administration’s goal of establishing 90 new shelters to deal with the city’s homelessness crisis. The city has opened 25 new shelters and identified 23 other sites to date, according to the Department of Social Services.