Community rallies against Staten Island homeless shelter

STATEN ISLAND -- In the seemingly never-ending uphill battle that is Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to “Turn the Tide on Homelessness”… the latest community opposition to a newly proposed shelter surfaced on Staten Island Tuesday evening, on the same stretch of sidewalk, where almost five years ago, Eric Garner lost his life.

If you watch PIX11 News, you’ve seen this scene before, residents upset over the de Blasio administration’s decision to open up a new homeless shelter in their neighborhood…this time, on the site of a massive lot at 44 Victory Boulevard.

“The issue is the size, the scale, and the lack of community input in placing this site right here in the middle of our community center of st. George,” said Michael Harwood of the St. George Civic Assoc.

The residents say this is not a NIMBY – Not In My Backyard Issue – but simply one of consideration, as in they weren’t given any, and what they claim is the city’s choice of a bad location for a reported 200-bed family shelter.

The Mayor’s office did not respond to our request for comment in time for this report, but their position in previous shelter community battles is straightforward; the city has a legal obligation to house the homeless, and every borough and neighborhood must help shoulder this responsibility.

“We really need for the city to get off its fixation of building more shelters and please, to focus more on the housing,” said Saul Porter of Port Richmond Strong.

Priscilla Marco, president The Van Duzer Street Area Civic Association, showed us an email from Mayor’s office apologizing for not being able to make it to their monthly meeting.

Marco says she intends to keep fighting – even in the face of the city’s near perfect track record of opening shelters in the face of staunch, passionate, community opposition.

“It’s the total impact on this neighborhood, and what you want this neighborhood to be," Marco said. "And knowing about Tompkinsville Park, directly across the street – and what that history has been. And it’s not going to improve. In fact, it’s going to send it further back along the lines of drug selling that people have spoken about before,."

Christine Quinn, President and CEO of Win, the non-profit set to operate the proposed shelter, tells PIX11, “This shelter will allow hundreds of vulnerable Staten Island moms and kids to return to or stay in their home community - and we are confident it will be a boon for a revitalizing neighborhood. We at Win stand by this proposed shelter and are at the ready for a thoughtful, open discussion with the community, but let’s never lose sight of the fact that this is about Staten Island women and children.”

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