STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - It was standing room only at Tuesday's packed meeting of Staten Island’s community board 1.
The contentious meeting attracted hundreds of residents from the north shore — searching for answers about a controversial planned homeless shelter in Tompkinsville from the woman who is planning to build it - former City Council speaker Christine Quinn. Chief among their complaints: Feeling the public was shut out of the process of placing the shelter.
Christine Quinn: I can tell you I reached out to elected officials as soon as we were told by the city
Christine Quinn: All of them. All of them. I left messages with all the elected officials.
Quinn now runs a not for profit called Women in Need, or WIN, with plans to build a 200 family shelter for women and children.
The shelter would be across the street from a location that has long been a source of complaints about panhandling, public drinking and drug use. The issues with that location, Tompkinsville Park, prompted one woman to ask where the estimated 200 or more children who will live in the shelter will play.
"There isn’t anything in the neighborhood to go to," said Vincenza Kramer, a resident.
"I know there is a park nearby that is substandard," said Quinn. "We have promised that we want to become part of the coalition in the community to fight for reclaiming that park."
Residents weren’t buying it. They cited an abundance of social services in the area, as well as a recent push to try to build the neighborhood up, and want to know why alternate locations were not considered.
"No one here is questioning the need for homeless services, no one," said one attendee. "The topic is 44 Victory Boulevard. It’s the wrong site and it’s too big," said one attendee.
It doesn't seem like much can be done. The Department of Homeless Services isn't legally required to solicit community feedback until 30 days before a shelter opens. And while DHS tells NY1 it did solicit help in deciding where the new shelters would go it says it did not receive any viable proposals.
A host of elected officials met with Department of Homeless Commissioner Steven Banks last month in a bid to convince him to rethink the shelter’s location. It doesn’t seem that plea worked.
Quinn says the shelter is scheduled to open sometime in 2020.