Queens Jail/Shelter Update

BY JON CRONIN

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) discussed plans for the upcoming Kew Gardens jail and the outgoing homeless shelter at the Comfort Inn on 82nd Avenue during a closed-door meeting with residents this week.

Koslowitz said that she believed the meeting, to which only local residents were invited, was a success.

“It was a very positive meeting. We all left feeling good,” said Kew Gardens resident M.K. Moore, adding that Koslowitz fought for her constituents and scored a win when she got Stephen Banks, the head of the city’s Department of Homeless Services, to agree to close the shelter in a year.

Jonathan Kastin, a resident of the Kewl apartment complex, which shares the building with the Comfort Inn, said that he was pleased to learn that the proposed jail might not come to the neighborhood for another five years.

He said that—in the short term—the Kewl has better security and, in the long term, the removal of the homeless shelter.

Koslowitz told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that she would make sure that the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) would bring in more security for the area, and that the 102nd Precinct would patrol that part of the neighborhood more frequently. Local residents have reported that they see shelter residents drinking alcohol in public and urinating on nearby buildings. The Comfort Inn had been housing single men. In June, the councilwoman got the DHS to agree to bring in families and take out the single men.

Kastin said that he was relieved to hear that inmates would not frequently be going in and out of the jail. He reported that Koslowitz told residents during the meeting that they would be long-term inmates who would not be a visible part of the neighborhood—unlike the shelter residents.

“There will be a new mayor, new governor, anything could happen,” Kastin said, implying that a new administration may not put a jail in Kew Gardens. “The de Blasio administration overreached on this. [I hope that the mayor] got the message that they can’t just ignore people.”

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