Supports “Close to Home” Mission but Urges Alternative Locations Outside of Residential

QUEENS, NY – Queens Borough President Melinda Katz stated the following in response to questions about the Administration for Children’s Services’ (ACS’) Fair Share Analysis for a proposed plan to site a limited secure placement facility in the heavily residential neighborhood of South Ozone Park:

“Residential neighborhoods like South Ozone Park need schools, not prisons,” said Borough President Katz.  “The placement of this type of facility is just too close to home, where families are already burdened with similar facilities in the area.  While I support the mission of the ‘Close to Home’ initiative, I also believe the goals can be achieved by placing the facilities in areas nearby that are more appropriately zoned. To this end, I offer the resources of my office to the administration to find alternative, more fitting locations for all facilities that need to be sited, including schools.”

These facilities are part of the “Close to Home” initiative by ACS, which has awarded a contract with Sheltering Arms NY (formerly Episcopal Social Services) to establish a limited secure placement facility at 133-23 127th Street in South Ozone Park. There is already a “Close to Home” non-secure facility around the corner on 128th Street, in addition to the Skyway Men’s Shelter a few blocks away on South Conduit Avenue. ACS has also awarded a contract with “Children’s Village” for a limited secure placement facility at 207-01 – 207-11 Jamaica Avenue in Queens Village. The South Ozone Park area is a part of the Borough in which Borough President Katz has been actively working with the community board to have continued stability in the area to promote a safe and healthy environment for all residents.

Borough President Katz has engaged in ongoing discussions for months with ACS and the Buildings Department on the issue in response to significant concerns raised by the community.  In the discussions, Borough President Katz has pointed out that these facilities are not as characterized in documents filed with the Buildings Department; specifically, the facility is not providing services that are open to the community or general public.  Borough President Katz has also noted that these types of facilities are typically found in manufacturing or commercial areas and prohibited in areas zoned for residential use.

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