Last year we knew there was a threat of a homeless shelter on the horizon at 78-16 Cooper Avenue in Glendale but the buzz was that the area for the site is too contaminated and costly to rehabilitate for the threat to become a reality. Well, guess what? It’s here and let’s not forget the strident statement by our Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) – “With every fabric of my being, I’m going to fight this.” Of course she meant “fiber.” We wish she had done her due diligence during the past year as our Council Member and squelched the whole threat before it became our neighborhood reality.
The building in question is located just west of The Shops at Atlas Park, and the applicant is Samaritan Village, a Bronx based facility. The area is zoned for manufacturing, but temporary housing, including homeless shelters, have been permitted in the past without any city approval needed.
On Friday, August 30, 2013, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., candidate for Queens Borough President, along with the Juniper Park Civic Association held a rally at the site with approximately 60 people in attendance. “This is not the place for a homeless shelter,” Vallone stated as he pointed out the overburden the additional families would put on the already overcrowded schools in the area. Vallone also made the point that several new businesses have opened nearby where owners have poured millions of their hard earned dollars and a homeless shelter is the last thing the area needs at this time.
JPCA President Bob Holden stated that what the neighborhood needs are places where our older residents can live while they stayed close to their families and he cited the elderly parents of some of his friends who would benefit by such a facility. He also made the point that there is very little public transportation in that area of Glendale so getting around the neighborhood would be very cumbersome for anyone living in the manufacturing M-1 zone.
Also pointed out by another speaker, the site, 78-16 Cooper Avenue was considered too contaminated and risky for a much-needed school but it’s just fine to house the homeless. The question we should be asking is why isn’t there criticism of that very discriminatory decision?
The whole message of the rally was “Why here?” There are many more suitable locations for homeless shelters and shoving them into M-1 manufacturing zones in thriving middle class areas is the last thing Glendale and Middle Village need.