Remember this folks, even though you may not live in South Jamaica, when homeless shelters are placed by the dozen in a community, neighboring communities get affected as it causes a snowball effect. I have to say I am surprised to finally see some passion and anger from Jamaica residents. It is about time! KEEP IT UP.
If you don’t speak up and start standing up, the future of SE Queens will be this.
From Queens Chronicle:
Rally set for site of So. Jamaica hotel
Residents believe spate of hotel approvals could foretell of shelters
Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2016 10:30 am
Opponents of a hotel that is in the preliminary stages of construction on 115th Avenue will be staging a protest rally this coming Saturday to make their displeasure known to the property owner — and city homeless officials.
The property at 163-18 115 Ave. is on the southeast corner of the intersection with Guy R. Brewer Boulevard. And more than 40 people gathered just up the street Tuesday night to plan the march, scheduled for between 12:30 and 2 p.m.
“We can’t sit in meetings and ask ‘Why?’ anymore,” said Michele Keller, a member of Community Board 12 who led the meeting at the South Queens Multi-Service Center.
Southeast Queens has seen a marked increase in the number of hotels approved for construction. But residents, civic and elected officials believe those correspond only too well with increases in the city’s homeless population, and the city’s propensity to place supportive housing in CB 12’s area.
The district has more than half of the homeless shelters in the borough, and between 30 and 40 percent of its homeless population.
The South Jamaica residents had support in the room Tuesday night from Anthony Rivers and Donnie Whitehead from People from the Neighborhood in St. Albans; Phil Wong and Tom Lai of Elmhurst United; and Christina Wilkinson and Kim Caruana of the Maspeth-Middle Village Task Force.
All three organizations have fought or delayed homeless hotels and shelters with varying degrees of success in the last two years.
Caruana and Wilkinson’s group has led protests outside the Brooklyn home of city Human Resources Commissioner Steve Banks, the most recent one this past Saturday [see related story in some editions].
Keller and her group believe that even if the property begins as a hotel, it would be a short step from the owner believing he could make more money by offering it to the city as a shelter. The other groups said that is not an unfounded fear, as all three of them were hit with shelters overnight with no notice. All have accused the city of lying and using strong-arm tactics.
“You’ll be told you hate the homeless,” Wong said.
“You’ll be told you’re racists,” he said to the overwhelmingly African-American crowd.
Caruana said some of their members will attend Saturday’s protest.
“We have to stick together,” she said.
Rivers, whose group was able to obtain a court injunction and delay a shelter on Hollis Avenue for months, said signs are perfectly legal if not attached to sticks or poles.
“You can also use a bullhorn,” he said. Rivers also pointed out that once homeless veterans were in place, their pickets stopped, as it was city policy and not veterans in need whom they considered the problem.
Keller reminded Jamaica residents while the support is gratefully appreciated, ultimately any progress will come only from local residents keeping the pressure on.
“This is our neighborhood,” she said. “This is our fight.”
That aspect has not been neglected.
Since a meeting last month, neighborhood residents have researched the property owner, Harjinder Singh, using the corporate name Hillside Ave Hotel LLC.
Wong and Lai said once a hotel becomes a homeless shelter it is not going anywhere, and that it drives down nearby residential property values.
Rafael Vargas, who lives near the site, had not neglected that aspect, presenting some research he has done on real estate in the area surrounding the property.
He said residents of South Jamaica have more of an economic stake — and more economic power — than they might realize.
“There are 250 homes on the streets near there that have a value of $120 million,” he said. “If the average home is worth $500,000, and your value drops 1 percent, you lose $5,000; 5 percent and you lose $25,000. Twenty percent and you lose $100,000. … We need to use our economic power.”
A former Rochdale Village resident, Vargas said residents of the housing complex are a model for how more than 5,000 people can unite for a common economic and civic interest.
“[Politicians] campaign in Rochdale because it’s a large block,” he said.