The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has confirmed that they will be moving forward with the establishment of a men’s homeless shelter at the building located at 127-03 20th Avenue, College Point, NY 11356. Before this announcement, this location already faced strong community opposition from Council Member Paul Vallone, State Senator Tony Avella, Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal, Community Board 7, the College Point Civic Taxpayers Association, and hundreds of community members.
Over the years, College Point has had well beyond its fair share of municipal services dumped on it by the City. The neighborhood is already burdened with the new NYPD Police Academy, a Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Garage, a DSNY Marine Waste Transfer Station, a United States Post Office Processing and Distribution Center, a Department of Motor Vehicles, an MTA Bus Garage and an NYPD Tow and Retrieval Vehicle Station. College Point, and this location in particular, lacks the infrastructure, transportation options and medical facilities to support a homeless shelter.
While the city’s policy for siting shelters is aimed to make it easier to find locations, 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.
The Department of Homeless Services and Mayor de Blasio’s Administration must immediately rescind their plan to establish this homeless shelter and instead position it in a location which has the appropriate infrastructure and is not overburdened with municipal services.