Jan. 19, 2022 By Michael Dorgan (update)
A group of community and business leaders from Flushing announced Tuesday that more than 54,000 residents have signed a petition opposing the construction of a 90-unit homeless housing development on College Point Boulevard.
The petition, launched last month, seeks to stop the proposed seven-story building from being constructed at 39-03 College Point Blvd., located between 39th Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue. The petitioners say the community has not been involved in the planning process and that they do not want the facility to be built on the empty site.
The development would consist of supportive housing units, providing temporary apartments to homeless families as a means to get them back on their feet.
Proponents of the plans say that the facility would provide temporary accommodation for families who may have lost their homes or may have been housed in illegal basement apartments—as opposed to being a long-term homeless shelter. The purpose of the units is to help transition people back into long-term housing.
Permits for the development were filed late last year with the Dept. of Homeless Services (DHS) expected to partner with the Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) to construct the facility. The AAFE is a Manhattan-based non-profit that provides affordable housing for Asian Americans and various disadvantaged communities. The organization also has a Flushing office on 41st Avenue.
The development is expected to cost around $440 million, according to the organizers of the petition. The project is expected to break ground in February 2022 with construction taking around 20 months, according to the AAFE website.
However, in a statement issued today, AAFE said the project is on hold.
“The project has been paused, due to AAFE’s own coordination with city officials, in order to address community concerns and to provide more education and insight into the benefits of this project for the Flushing community,” a spokesperson for AAFE said.
The petition calls on the city to block the development arguing that it would “adversely affect Flushing” as it attempts to bounce back from the economic crisis stemming largely from the pandemic.
The petitioners say they do not trust the city to stick to the current plans for the site, noting that the nearby Wyndham Gardens Fresh Meadows Hotel has housed early released Rikers Island inmates for nearly 20 months, even though the community was initially told the inmates were to be housed there for three months.
The petition calls on the city to scrap the development and pledge that it will not construct such a building in the future. It also calls for a public hearing to be held so they can voice their concerns.
The petition was created by Flushing United, a group established last month by community and business leaders seeking to block the development, according to a spokesperson for Flushing United.
The group held a press conference Tuesday at the Grand Restaurant, located at 4021 Main St., to announce the petition had garnered more than 54,000 signatures – with more than 50,000 signatures gathered by hand and nearly 4,000 generated online.
They questioned why the city has decided to build a supportive housing facility at the site instead of affordable housing units, which they say would better serve the community.
“The community has raised concerns and still many more questions remain unanswered,” said Flushing United member Dr. George Liu.
“We want to make sure this project is right for Flushing with proper communication and the community’s input.”
Flushing United also called on the city to reveal the exact cost of the development and to disclose if any studies have been conducted to assess the safety risk it may pose to nearby residents.
The Queens Post reached out to DHS for comment on the points raised by Flushing United but has yet to receive a response.
Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said in a statement that she met with DHS and Flushing United last week to discuss the issue.
“I found there were many unanswered questions and unaddressed issues,” Stavisky said Tuesday.
She encouraged concerned residents to participate in next week’s Community Board 7 virtual meeting and raise the issues surrounding the proposed development.
The meeting will take place on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.