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No More Secret Actions! DHS Must Work With Communities

Posted on by Unity For Equality

On Monday evening, Unity For Equality had the highest honors of standing with Council Member Paul Vallone, Congressman Joseph Crowley, State Senator Tony Avella, Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, Community Board 7 Representatives, the College Point Civic Taxpayers Association, Civic Leaders and Community Members to rally against a proposed homeless shelter in College Point.

Last week, rumors began swirling through College Point about a potential homeless shelter coming to the building located at 127-03 20th Avenue. Council Member Vallone confirmed with the Mayor’s Administration that the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has an ongoing open request for proposal (OERFP) throughout the city to build homeless shelters. While this policy was aimed to make it easier for the city to find locations for shelters, 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.

Mr. Levitan now has his sights set on College Point after acquiring this location in March 2018. While Liberty One Group have submitted their proposal for this building, the Administration has not yet made a decision if it will become a site.

Unity For Equality standing with Council Member Paul Vallone immediately condemned this proposal at the rally stating, “As we’ve seen time and time again, the DHS is acting with a complete lack of community involvement, foregoing any input or dialogue with our civic leaders and elected officials. What’s worse, the city’s policy for siting shelters allows greedy developers to profit from the homelessness crisis while displaying wanton disregard for the effect on our community. Mr. Levitan is wrong to try and profit off of a community that is already overburdened with City services. Not only does College Point lack the infrastructure, transportation options and medical facilities to support this type of facility, it already has more than its fair share of municipal facilities that have been dumped here with almost no consideration for the community.

College Point has taken on the burden of a new NYPD Police Academy, a Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Garage, a DSNY Marine Waste Transfer Station, an MTA Bus Garage and an NYPD Tow and Retrieval Vehicle Station. Also, this proposed shelter would be within walking distance of three public schools, the St. Agnes Academic Academy and over 2,000 students. So to make it very clear to the DHS and the developers of Liberty One Group, We are against this, our community is against this, and we will not sit idly by while the Administration makes their determination.