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Women’s center escapes eviction yet again

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The Queens Women’s Center conducted its business at Bayside’s Fort Totten as usual this week, trying to ignore the specter of eviction that has been haunting the group for three months.

As of Monday, the group appeared to have at least temporarily escaped its Feb. 28 eviction deadline from the city, Queens Women’s Center Founder Ann Jawin said.

“I’ve survived for the moment,” Jawin, a Douglaston resident, said on Monday. “Who knows. We’ll see what happens.

“We’re doing our business just as if nothing has happened,” she said. “And I feel confident that we will get time from a judge.”

The Queens Women’s Center has been headquartered in Building #401 at Totten since 1997, but in November it received a Dec. 13 eviction notice from the city Fire Department. After obtaining a lawyer, the women’s center got a new eviction deadline of Jan. 15 but did not leave. Jawin said the city’s Corporation Counsel told her to move her group of the building by Feb. 28.

Fort Totten, decommissioned by the U.S. Army in 1995, was to be taken over by the city earlier this year and split between the Fire Department and Parks Department. Several nonprofits occupy buildings at the Civil War-era fort, but only the Queens Women’s Center has received an eviction notice.

Jawin said she thought the city could come at any time with a court order and a city marshal to evict her group, which serves about 150 women a week, from its building.

“I don’t really know what’s going to happen,” she said. “We just have to keep going.”

The women’s center founder has long maintained she would take the city to court if it tried to evict her group.

The Fire Department told the TimesLedger in January the group should apply to the Parks Department for space if it wants to remain at the Bayside fort.

A Parks Department spokesman said the agency did not want the group as a temporary tenant but that the Queens Women’s Center could apply for permanent space if it chose.

The Queens Women’s Center was founded in 1987 and provides a range of services to women and families, including job training, domestic violence programs, counseling, funding and training for women who want to start their own business, among other things.

The Fire Department planned to use the Queens Women’s Center building for administration and classroom space, a department spokesman said. The building will be part of the department’s educational campus, which will be based at Totten once the city takes over the land.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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