October 31—Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, together with Congressman Gregory Meeks, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and Senator Joseph Addabbo, has announced that proposed plans to place a homeless shelter on Beach 8th Street in Far Rockaway have been terminated.
“A homeless shelter at this site, near our schools and parks, was misguided,” said Assemblyman Goldfeder. “I commend Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Homeless Services for listening to our concerns and halting proposed plans.”
Last week, elected officials were informed by DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor of his agency’s intent to open a new homeless shelter located at the old Rockaway Manor Home for Adults at 145 Beach 8th Street. Commissioner Taylor added that the site, which was closed following Superstorm Sandy, would house 120 single men.
Goldfeder strenuously opposed the plan and expressed many concerns, including the close proximity to local schools and thousands of children, as well as placing a new vulnerable population in a Sandy-devastated flood zone. In response, an emergency meeting of local school, community, and rabbinic leaders was convened to discuss the proposal and collaborate on an appropriate response.
“A new homeless shelter in Far Rockaway would have put our families in danger,” said Rabbi Baruch Rothman, director of institutional advancement at Yeshiva Darchei Torah. “The entire community is thankful for the tireless leadership and advocacy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, who united our political and communal leaders and was successful in saving our community.”
“It is wonderful news that Mayor de Blasio has decided not to pursue his plan to place a shelter for homeless men in the heart of the Far Rockaway community, literally steps away from six schools that welcome over 3,000 children daily,” said Shmuel Reisbaum, executive director at Torah Academy for Girls. “We realize that his decision is due, in no small part, to the immediate action taken by Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and must thank him profusely for the leadership role he took in literally saving our community.”
At a meeting held at City Hall with Mayor de Blasio, Goldfeder led a delegation of elected officials who each reiterated their strenuous opposition to the proposal. They were informed directly by the mayor that plans would be halted immediately.
“I commend my great friend Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder for taking the lead and uniting the elected officials and community in opposition to a new homeless shelter,” said Congressman Greg Meeks. “Far Rockaway is finally starting recover from the devastation caused by Sandy and I will continue to do whatever it takes to keep the community strong.”
“Together with my colleagues, we sent a strong message that a men’s shelter neighboring several schools is purely unacceptable,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “I am thankful our concerns were heard and am truly relieved Mayor de Blasio has decided to withdraw plans to place a homeless shelter on Beach 8th Street in Far Rockaway.”
“When community residents from all faiths work with their elected officials, progress can be made to protect a community. The mayor heard the concerns of our constituents and for a moment understood what Rockaway has gone through since Sandy and the positive direction the peninsula is heading in towards its recovery. When the mayor decided not to place a homeless shelter on Beach 8th Street, it was a victory for Rockaway and its residents,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo.
“This was a team effort and a huge victory for our community,” concluded Assemblyman Goldfeder. “We will stay vigilant and continue to do everything we can to protect our families, keep our community strong, and allow our neighborhood to recover from Sandy and grow even stronger.”