Council Member Vallone, Elected Officials and Community Rally Against Proposed Homeless Shelter in College Point
October 30, 2018
College Point – On Monday evening, Council Member Vallone was joined by State Senator Tony Avella, Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, Community Board 7 representatives, the College Point Civic Taxpayers Association, civic leaders and community members to rally against a proposed homeless shelter in College Point.
Last week, rumors began swirling through College Point about a potential homeless shelter coming to the building located at 127-03 20th Avenue. Council Member Vallone confirmed with the Mayor’s Administration that the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has an ongoing open request for proposal (OERFP) throughout the city to build homeless shelters. While this policy was aimed to make it easier for the city to find locations for shelters, it has also allowed developers and property owners to greedily profit from the homelessness crisis. David Levitan, part owner of Liberty One Group, has made a name for himself by building and converting multiple sites throughout the city into shelters and profiting millions. Mr. Levitan has contracted at least eight sites in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens in the last decade. In 2012, he faced a wrongful death lawsuit after a murder occurred in one of Levitan’s homeless shelters located in the Bronx on Southern Boulevard. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.
Mr. Levitan now has his sights set on College Point after acquiring this location in March 2018. While Liberty One Group have submitted their proposal for this building, the Administration has not yet made a decision if it will become a site.
Council Member Vallone immediately condemned this proposal at the rally stating, “As we’ve seen time and time again, the DHS is acting with a complete lack of community involvement, foregoing any input or dialogue with our civic leaders and elected officials. What’s worse, the city’s policy for siting shelters allows greedy developers to profit from the homelessness crisis while displaying wanton disregard for the effect on our community. Mr. Levitan is wrong to try and profit off of a community that is already overburdened with city services. Not only does College Point lack the infrastructure, transportation options and medical facilities to support this type of facility, it already has more than its fair share of municipal facilities that have been dumped here with almost no consideration for the community. College Point has taken on the burden of a new NYPD Police Academy, a Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Garage, a DSNY Marine Waste Transfer Station, an MTA Bus Garage and an NYPD Tow and Retrieval Vehicle Station. Also, this proposed shelter would be within walking distance of three public schools, the St. Agnes Academic Academy and over 2,000 students. So to make it very clear to the DHS and the developers of Liberty One Group, I am against this, our community is against this, and we will not sit idly by while the Administration makes their determination.
“Without adequate infrastructure to support a family long term or easy access to transportation, a homeless shelter at College Point makes no sense,” said Rep. Joe Crowley. “The Department of Homeless Services should consider both the needs of homeless families and those who live in the surrounding community.”
“The College Point community has already experienced more than its fair share of municipal services, including hosting the NYPD Academy, Post Office, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Department of Sanitation’s facilities. The result is limited parking for taxpaying residents, constant traffic, illegal conversions, and general overdevelopment. Enough is enough,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “No one knows their neighborhood better than the people who live there, and it is time the City of New York listens to residents prior to any final decisions made regarding any homeless shelters being placed in their community. The residents are the ones who will be affected by this decision on a daily basis, and they have spoken. I fully support their decision to reject a homeless shelter.”
“Once again, DHS has shown complete disregard for transparency and reason,” said Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal. “College Point is increasingly overdeveloped while it is constantly overlooked for investment by the City. The community lacks the resources, infrastructure and ability to support a proposed shelter. It would be a great disservice to our vulnerable populations to be placed in a location without ample public transportation, which denies access to opportunity resources or proper medical care facilities. I call on the City to reject this proposal and do the right thing for both our residents and homeless population.”
“Community Board #7Q and College Point in particular have been overburdened by Citywide Initiatives for years. We house the Marine Transfer Station, the Sanitation Garage (one of the largest in Queens), recycling for neighboring Community Boards, The Police Academy, NYPD Warrants Squad, Queens North and South Narcotics Division, The Fire Marshall Base, two Asphalt plants and numerous Group Homes,” said Chuck Apelian, Vice-Chair of Community Board 7. “We inherited numerous displaced property owners from the Willets Point relocation, which we were promised would not occur. It’s time the City really apply the fair share criteria fairly as we will not accept another Citywide burden.”