“Why are you bullying me?” Markey said to a chorus of jeers. “I’m opposed to the shelter. I have not given money to it.
“We are not cooperating,” she added. “You are being manipulated.”
Markey promptly left the Knockdown Center, where nearly 1,000 community members came out in opposition to the city’s proposal to turn the Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road into a homeless shelter for 110 adults families.
On Thursday morning, Markey visited the Queens Ledger office and spoke about what had happened at the public hearing.
“People voiced their concerns,” she said. “I understand their concerns.”
“I think my opposition stirred them up,” she added, referring two challengers for her seat this year, one a Democrat and the other Republican.
With the Democratic primary approaching on September 13, Markey emphasized that she has “given more than 40 years” to her community.
“If the people of Maspeth don’t want me, so be it,” she said. “But I have a commitment to the people.”
In a statement Markey was originally supposed to read at the public hearing, the longtime assemblywoman reiterated her opposition to the shelter. She cited Mayor Bill de Blasio’s previous assertions about not using hotels to deal with the homelessness crisis, and said his administration is doing just the opposite.
“We elected officials reached out to City Hall to get a face-to-face meeting with the Mayor to explain our opposition,” the statement said. “But he has ignored us.”
Markey has since reached out to Comptroller Scott Stringer, who she said was willing to meet and discuss the options, unlike the mayor.
Though the comptroller pledged to closely examine any contract for the shelter, the de Blasio administration and Commissioner Steven Banks have said there is no contract.
“There is nothing for anyone to review,” Markey said in her statement. “This is wrong.”
The assemblywoman then said DHS’s outline of the project “doesn’t give us much of a picture of the programs” at the shelter, shelter operator Acacia, the cost to taxpayers, or the financial arrangements between the city, the operator and the hotel owner.
“From what we know now, it is not clear how this shelter will get residents back on their feet, get them jobs and get them into permanent housing,” she said.
She also pointed out that the shelter plan is located in the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone (IBZ), which is meant for commercial or industrial buildings only, not residential.
Markey signed onto Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s lawsuit against the city, claiming that the shelter plan violates city administrative code about shelter units containing kitchen facilities.
“It is wrong to put homeless families in hotel rooms not equipped for living,” Markey said in the statement. “Without better answers, I will continue to do all I can to oppose this facility.”