Queens Hospital housing plan alarms community

Under a Queens Hospital Center proposal, its "T Building" would be re-envisioned as a low-income housing development for people with chronic ailments. Photo by Karen Frantz
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Some civic members are concerned about plans to turn a Queens Hospital Center building into a residence for people with low incomes and chronic conditions, saying they have been told it would house people with mental disabilities and HIV/AIDS.

“There’s a lot of questions about safety,” said Kevin Forrestal, a member of Community Board 8.

Queens Hospital Center recently made a presentation to CB 8 about the project, Forrestal said. Board members are worried because the residence, which would be at the vacant “T Building” on the Queens Hospital Campus, is close to two schools, he said.

“There was some concern about people with behavioral problems being so close to young children,” he said.

The T Building, on Parsons Boulevard between 82nd Drive and Goethals Avenue, is across the street from St. Nicholas of Tolentine Elementary School and around the corner from Queens Gateway to Health Sciences High School.

Though the building would have round-the-clock front desk coverage and security cameras both inside and outside the building, Forrestal said he was not as worried about security on the home’s grounds as he was about what might go on out in the general community.

The plan for the residence, which is still in the preliminary stages, envisions the T Building as 251 units of permanent housing. It would be operated by Comunilife, a city-based nonprofit that provides health and housing services to low-income and vulnerable individuals.

“Affordable, stable and quality housing with supportive services can help individuals with chronic conditions to live more independently, facilitates access to appropriate health care services and also helps to reduce emergency room use and hospital readmissions,” said Comunilife spokeswoman Olga Jobe in a statement.

Under the plan, Queens Hospital would lease the T Building to Comunilife, and Jobe said patients of Queens and Elmhurst hospitals with chronic conditions would be given preference for apartments. The remaining units would be offered via a lottery to low-income individuals with a preference for veterans and people living in the area.

Although Jobe said the project was not at the point of providing details about the residents’ specific conditions, both Forrestal and Bob Trabold, director of the Hillcrest-Jamaica Hills Neighborhood Association, said they had heard through Queens Hospital Center that the building would house people with mental disabilities and HIV/AIDS.

Trabold said he was alarmed because the building could house such a large number of people.

“That is a lot of people with problems in one spot,” he said.

Forrestal and Trabold said Queens Hospital is arguing it may build “as of right,” although both said they think that may not be true and the project may need city approval. In the meantime, Trabold has appealed to state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) about the project and he is hoping to soon set up a meeting with Queens Hospital and Comunilife to air concerns.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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Reader Feedback

Benny Wong from Fresh Meadows says:
Fresh Meadows shouldn't have a facility that houses the mentally ill. On Oct. 31, 2013, man with a history of psychological problems twice stabbed a woman after she got off the bus at 73 ave and Union Turnpike. Dec. 29, 2012, Sunando Sen was pushed under a subway train to his death from a No. 7 train. His accused killer had a history of mental illness. There are two schools located nearby. Why subject the youths to these mental timebombs? These unstable individuals should not be merged in our community as Fresh Meadows residents and their families will be targets for the mentally ill. No one wants to be their next victim!
Jan. 21, 2013, 4:44 pm
Jambes Marks from Humboldt says:
I hope I can qualify to live there. It's hard living in a shelter and eating Alpo. The voices in my head tell me that Sean wants me to be his mutt.
July 21, 2013, 12:19 am
Mazeda Akter Uddin from Community Board 8 says:
Dec 8,2014
United for A Cultural Community Center in Jamaica Hills to Strengthen The Neighborhood

Dear Honorable public Advocate,

I am a humanitarian community leader and activist who works in five borough to address the challenges facing the South Asian American community in the areas of education, employment, poverty, worker’s rights, Voting Rights, geriatric aide, healthcare, immigration, English proficiency, traffic, security, hate crimes and housing.

Jamaica Hills is large diverse population. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 8, which also includes Briarwood, Flushing South, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills and Utopia. Jamaica is patrolled by the NYPD's 107th Precinct.

We need Cultural Community Center – This center will provide the following: Access for a job training, assistance with Social Justice issues, a job Hotline service, Health classes /Youth /Adult education, Business workshop/seminar, Voter Registration seminar with training/ Cultural Events and many more issues, as well as community events, outreach, advocacy and education.

Our Community has significant unemployment and income disparity. We must increase quality employment, economic diversity and financial security to support a livable our neighborhood.

We need a job policy training that builds a fair economy for all of our neighborhood in this facilities . We must boost the wages of Low-wage workers like those in manufacturing, and reform low wage economic development subsidies so they create living wage jobs, and provide a Business policy/ loan/training for our women’s.

There is a lack of affordable housing in residents, Queens that has to be addressed. There is also a growing homeless problem that should be taken care of now while it is still at a manageable stage. Affortable Renting policy should be address for minority residents.

A serious attempt should be made to involve more of the children’s parents in the Community Center and create a leadership program in this center get education programs like citizenship program.

We need to engage local residents, City agencies and elected officials to discuss these issues, opportunities, challenges, and ideas to strengthen the neighborhoods..

I am proud to say we did it with a strong body of people that are able to be successful even through obstacle that come their way. Such and institution will not only mimick pride for the second largest religion in the world but one of the largest cultural groups in the city.

This is only one of the many journey’s head of us but it is imperative to remember that helping just one American is like saving a Village.
Respectfully Submitted,
South Asian Fund For Education, Scholarship And Training (Founder/President)
Queens,District 24th Senior Taskforce Chair and County Committee member
National Women's Chair (ASAAL)
1 (646) 318-4617
Feb. 5, 2:53 pm

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