SHELTER WATCH: Pol says SCA has interest in proposed shelter site for new school
Sep 18, 2018 | 1021 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If all goes according to plan, the site at 78-16 Cooper Avenue will become a school, rather than a homeless shelter.

That’s according to Councilman Bob Holden, who announced the update at last week’s Community Board 5 meeting.

After Holden met with the Department of Homeless Services, who cleared the site’s environmental issues, he then convinced the School Construction Authority to consider building a school at the site.

“I called Lorraine Grillo, head of SCA, and said, ‘You’re not going to get properties like this,’” Holden said. “This is great, you can park school buses there, it’s a wonderful location for a school, much better than a homeless shelter.”

Grillo reported back to the councilman that the agency “loved the site.”

“What kind of school? I don’t care,” Holden said. “Whatever they want to put is fine with me.”

DHS Commissioner Steven Banks has insisted that the community still should have shelter capacity to house 287 homeless individuals who come from the CB5 area.

Holden said he’s working on a faith-based plan. He has contacted the local dioceses, and encouraged local parishes to use their empty rectories and convents to help the homeless.

“We have to reach out. We have a great community, and everybody is willing to help,” he said. “Now we have to come up with a plan and exercise it.”

Glendale civic leader Kathy Masi urged caution. Until DHS takes the location off the table, she said, the community should have a “Plan B.” She is continuing to plan a rally for September 23 at the site.

“We’re all hopeful, we’re all supportive of it. but I don’t want to give anyone the idea that the school is a done deal,” Masi said. “We still need to be vigilant regarding this site. We just can’t let it go.”

At the community board meeting, local activist Mike Papa also raised questions about the City Council’s likelihood of passing the text amendment for light manufacturing zones. He believes the city has carved out an exemption that allows the building of homeless shelters in these areas.

“It’s my belief that this amendment gives the community no further power in the decision-making process,” Papa said, “but completely empowers the Department of Homeless Services, homeless shelter developers, and the homeless shelter industry free reign to target M-1 zone properties with no accountability at all to the communities they affect.

“The City Council has the final vote on this,” he added. “I urge community members to call Councilman Holden and advise him to vote against this text amendment.”
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