Congressman Joseph Crowley, State Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya said on Wednesday that the number of rooms used to house the homeless has “routinely exceeded 30 to 40 percent of the building’s capacity.”
They also claimed that none of them were notified beforehand.
“Although the community is extremely sympathetic to the homelessness crisis, and we know that many are just a paycheck away from becoming homeless themselves, it is our hope that this hotel is not converted into a permanent homeless shelter,” the three said in the joint statement.
The city using hotels as homeless shelters has been a persistent problem in many neighborhoods in Queens.
In Maspeth, when residents discovered their Holiday Inn Express was going to be converted into a shelter, they took to the streets to protest. The owner of that hotel, Harshad Patel, has said he plans to pull out of the deal, but representatives from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) said they are still negotiating and reviewing the proposal.
Meanwhile, protesters have been demonstrating every night in front of the facility, which has caused the hotel to lose business.
A few weeks ago, it was discovered that the 72-room Quality Inn on Queens Boulevard in Woodside was also housing homeless families. DHS said they’re only using that facility on a temporary basis, and had no plans to make it a permanent shelter.
The elected officials in Corona said they are troubled with the prospect of a permanent shelter in the neighborhood, particularly following the city’s “failed attempt” in Maspeth. With five permanent homeless shelters already in the area, they said, they’re already doing their part.
“Our communities have contributed more than their fair share to alleviate the homelessness crisis that we are facing in New York City,” they said in the statement. “We will fiercely fight any attempt by the city to convert yet another local facility into a shelter.
The elected officials urged an open dialogue among DHS, elected officials and community residents to address homelessness.
“Not by forcing a neighborhood to take on additional burdens first without gathering meaningful input from those who are to be affected,” they said.
DHS spokesperson Lauren Gray confirmed in a statement that the agency is renting “some rooms at this location” to help meet its legal obligation to shelter homeless New Yorkers, whom she said otherwise would be sleeping on the street.
“There are currently no plans to convert this location into a homeless shelter,” Gray said, “but New York City’s legal obligation to provide shelter to a rising number of homeless New Yorkers has created a need to open additional shelters and rent hotel rooms across the city.”