QUEENS — Jamaica residents and elected officials will rally outside City Hall Wednesday, hoping to apply pressure on the city to stop building homeless shelters in the neighborhood.
Twelve out of about two dozen shelters in Queens are located within Community Board 12, which covers Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens, according to Yvonne Reddick, the board's district manager.
The rally is being organized as homeless veterans have just started moving into a controversial complex on Hollis Avenue, between 202nd and 204th streets, according to CB12.
“We are not against this shelter and we are not against veterans,” said Rev. James Barnwell III, president of Clergy United for Community Empowerment, who co-organizes the rally. “The issue is oversaturation.”
For months, community members held protests in front of the complex, consisting of six long-abandoned apartment buildings, which were recently renovated and turned into housing for homeless veterans.
“We are talking about 120 homeless vets,” Reddick said.
She also said that the complex, planned as a shelter, was recently rebranded as "affordable housing" after multiple protests.
Sources said that vets would indeed have to sign a lease and pay rent in order to live in the complex, but details were not immediately clear.
The Human Resources Administration did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment but last month a spokeswoman for the agency said that the HRA is “working on making this permanent affordable housing for veterans as part of the national effort to end homelessness for veterans.”
CB12 in Queens is among the 10 community districts with the most homeless shelters is the city. Those districts have more shelters than the remaining 49 community boards combined.
In December 2014, CB12 passed a resolution requesting a moratorium on building or expanding homeless shelters in the area. The measure was non-binding, and the city was not required to adopt it.