Queens residents push back against proposed homeless shelter

COLLEGE POINT, Queens --  Over the last several years, this has become a rite of passage for New York City homeless officials and shelter providers -- town hall meeting in front of an intensely hostile crowd protesting a newly proposed homeless shelter.

“It would be run by one of our very best providers – Westhab,” said DHS 1st Deputy Commissioner Jackie Bray.

Then, like clockwork, the town hall meetings are followed, months later and after the dust has settled, by the de Blasio administration actually opening up that proposed shelter.

Bray dutifully listened Monday night, perhaps well aware - based on the city's track record – the proposed 200-bed men's only shelter is likely coming to College Point, whether these outraged residents like it or not.

“We’re not helping people, we’re warehousing people. They should be building affordable housing, and they should be helping people like that. This is ridiculous,” said community leader Jennifer Shannon.

Councilman Paul Vallone tells PIX11, “we have to step back and say, how will we be safe? How will this be integrated. How will the local community concerns be heard.”

This could easily be perceived as another case of “NIMBY” – not in my backyard.

“When you put homeless shelters too close to residents, all the homes in the area drop 12.7 percent,” said long-time College Point resident Bill Dykes.

But as is the case with other community protests we’ve covered over the years, the argument against an incoming shelter is often about more than declining property values.

These residents are keenly aware of the well documented track record of arrests, drug activity, and general security issues which have plagued other newly opened adult only shelters around the city.

A woman named Denise remarked, “as someone who is legally blind, Westhab is not answering 911 calls, and I do not feel like you can keep us safe.”

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