Three days after the hearing, at which hundreds of residents turned out against the shelter, CB5’s Special Committee on Homeless Issues met at the school again on October 10.
Led by board member Dmytro Fedkowskyj, the special committee was formed three years ago in response to the city’s plan to house homeless men at the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth. Since its formation, the committee has met many times to better understand the problems and solutions to the homeless crisis.
Last Thursday, the members discussed what transpired at the public hearing. According to a draft summary of the committee meeting, even the committee acknowledged that “much of this public hearing was very loud,” making it difficult to hear the speakers.
They also noted that several registered speakers made “inappropriate, mean-spirited comments toward homeless people generally.”
The majority of speakers were opposed to the planned homeless shelter, the committee wrote, for dozens of reasons, including the scale of the shelter in a neighborhood of one- and two-family homes, proximity to schools and other youth facilities and centers, and the need to build homes rather than shelters.
Other concerns the board has previously expressed are that the site is in a manufacturing zone, the shelter is out of character with the neighborhood, and that subsidizing rent for families is more cost effective than “warehousing” families in expensive shelters.
The special committee also highlighted that CB5 previously voted in favor of a supportive housing plan at 80-97 Cypress Avenue in Glendale, which would house 20 people with a history of mental health issues and 20 homeless people at the site.
“This is a prime example of CB5 being reasonably open to housing those in need on a smaller scale,” the summary read. “We have had an unwritten policy that we would consider a reasonable proposal to house 50 homeless or fewer at a specific location.”
Finally, the committee addressed the issue of “fair share.” They noted that with the 200 men coming to the Glendale shelter and 132 families expected to be housed at the planned shelter at 16-16 Summerfield Street in Ridgewood, that combined number far surpasses the 240 or so people from the district who are in the shelter system.
As with previous large-scale shelter proposals in the district, the committee is likely to recommend opposing the shelter at 78-16 Cooper Avenue.
The full board will discuss the recommendation and vote on it at its monthly meeting set for Wednesday, October 16, at 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King High School.