DHS opens Cooper Avenue homeless shelter
by Benjamin Fang
Feb 18, 2020 | 570 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) officially opened the Cooper Rapid Rehousing Center on Friday.

The transitional housing facility at 78-16 Cooper Avenue will provide “high-quality shetler and dedicated employment services” to single adult men experiencing homelessness, a DHS spokesperson said.

The facility welcomed eight men on its opening day, and will gradually increase the number of residents over the next few weeks.

“We look forward to welcoming and supporting more neighbors in need at this location over the next few weeks,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement. “Working together with service provider Westhab and the community, we’re confident that we will make this the best experience it can be for these individuals as they get back on their feet.”

DHS will also set up a community advisory group that will provide a phone line for community members to call with concerns or issues.

In response to the shelter opening, Councilman Robert Holden said in a statement that his office was informed of the men moving in on Friday morning, despite no contract being signed yet. He also noted that the property does not have a certificate of occupancy.

When his chief of staff Daniel Kurzyna spoke to DHS Deputy Commissioner Matt Borden, Kurzyna was told the men were moved in because Comptroller Scott Stringer had given them the “green light,” and that the contract was “ready to go,” Holden said.

“When contacting the comptroller’s office, we were told that no contract had been registered or signed, and that what the DHS was doing was not approved by them,” Holden added.

The councilman said he then spoke to Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Melanie La Rocca and her staff, and asked why the property was granted a temporary certificate of occupancy, given the ongoing audit of plans and permits at the site.

The DOB responded that it did its due diligence in granting the temporary certificate of occupancy, and that it would continue its audit.

“This is the DHS’s disgraceful attempt at circumventing the legal process that is currently underway from the Glendale community,” Holden said. “This fight is not over, despite the DHS acting as a rogue agency and usurping laws, regulations and process.”

Last Wednesday night at the monthly Community Board 5 meeting, Glendale civic leader Kathy Masi said the Glendale-Middle Village Coalition’s Article 78 proceeding was denied by a judge, but that the group will file an appeal.

“It was obviously not even read by the judge because the decision makes no sense at all,” she said.

As for the legal challenge to DOB, Masi said she expects the coalition to appear before the Board of Standards and Appeals in another 20 days.

“We’re hoping that these things start to fall in place,” she said. “Maybe there’s a possibility we can delay these projects.”
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