Amid protests from Community Board 4 and civic leaders, the city has canceled its plan to send clients to a nonprofit homeless shelter on a residential street in Elmhurst, sources and Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s (D-Forest Hills) office confirmed.
Queens Alliance Inc. opened its doors last month at 86-18 58th Ave. in what was once a convent belonging to St. John’s Hospital. It had not received any clients yet from the city Human Resources Administration.
Ben Branham, a spokesman for Katz, whose district includes the sliver of Elmhurst where the shelter is located, said the councilwoman had been informed late Wednesday that homeless people would not be sent to the facility.
“More than that, we weren’t given much information, so we’re not really sure,” he said.
Queens Alliance did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday night. An official from the city HRA was not available for comment Thursday night.
Community Board 4 District Manager Richard Italiano, who helped organize a community information meeting after learning that the shelter had been approved as-of-right, was out of the office Thursday evening.
Neighbors, with the help of the civic group Communities Of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, held a rally against the shelter, which is located across the street from housing for the mentally disabled, July 11. The city Department of Buildings also received complaints about the building not displaying a proper certificate of occupancy for the 29-unit shelter, though Queens Alliance has a valid temporary certificate of occupancy through July 27. The group still holds a long-term lease for the site and it was unclear what would become of the four-story brick building.
“We’re certainly very happy to see that these concerns have been listened to, but at the same time we think it’s very much a priority that a proper location is found,” Branham said of the homeless shelter. “I’m not sure to what extent we’ll play a role in that.”
©2009 Community News Group
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