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Photo: Anthony Giudice/QNS
Photo: Anthony Giudice/QNS
The city is now housing 30 homeless men at the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth.

The city has reportedly begun housing homeless people at a Maspeth hotel, but it has abandoned plans to convert the hotel into a homeless shelter.

Gothamist reported on Monday that the Department of Homeless Services began moving in 30 homeless men into the Holiday Inn Express located on 55th Road. Since early August, Maspeth residents have protested plans to convert the hotel into a shelter for up to 110 homeless adults.

 

But DHS spokesperson Lauren Gray was quoted as saying that those plans were shelved as a result of the opposition from local residents who have relentlessly fought the proposal for the past two months. Opponents say, in part, that the city’s policy of placing large numbers of homeless residents into hotels was inhumane, and that other ideas should be considered in addressing the ongoing homelessness crisis.

They’ve held a nightly picket outside the Holiday Inn, marched through the community, crashed a meeting between elected officials and shelter representatives at a local restaurant, protested outside other homeless shelters in eastern Queens, and even boisterously protested outside the Brooklyn home of Human Resources Commissioner Steven Banks.

Local elected officials filed a lawsuit to stop the plan, and Community Board 5 voted in September to recommend denial of the shelter proposal.

“Due to local opposition to housing homeless New Yorkers, we have not been able to convert this site into a full shelter at this time,” Gray was quoted in the Gothamist report. “We are renting rooms for employed single adults and providing onsite services and security.”

Shelter opponents, however, did not consider this a victory. Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, reportedly criticized the city for moving homeless residents into the hotel unannounced and on a holiday.

The city also did not provide prior notice to the community in housing the homeless at other hotels in Queens including the Pan American hotel in Elmhurst (now a full-time homeless shelter), a Quality Inn in Woodside and a Holiday Inn in Corona.

Holden hinted that the introduction of homeless residents to the Maspeth Holiday Inn is a precursor to the hotel’s eventual conversion into a shelter.

“It will be a shelter. They can’t lose,” Holden told Gothamist. “So when they do make it a full-blown shelter, we’ll do what we said we were going to do: we’ll bring out a thousand people.”

The announcement came days after the DHS informed elected officials in east Queens that it would stop using two hotels in Bellerose as homeless shelters. Those hotels are owned by Harshad Patel, who also owns the Maspeth Holiday Inn; Patel said back in August he was withdrawing support of the shelter plan.

This is a developing story; check back with QNS for further details.

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joe October 11, 2016 / 06:58AM
GIVE IT A REST LEAH, with your comments, about "giving them a break". I am sure they have had plenty of breaks throughout their lives, so please. Also if you care so much about the plight of these men and other homeless in NYC, you should be criticizing the Mayor and Department of Homeless Service for warehousing human beings in hotel rooms, which it ILLEGAL. Hotel rooms do not have kitchens and hotels cannot provide the proper service for this group of people. Also as one who lives in a community wit over 20 shelters, I see what these men "getting a break". They loiter in on the sidewalks in front of shelters all day long, making noise and causing other problems in the community. Communities and especially communities of color are tired of having these poorly run shelters with poor security dumped into their communities making quality of life issues, which are not so great to begin with, even worse.
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Leah October 11, 2016 / 12:38PM
Thanks Joe. I appreciate the perspective. I'm sorry this has affected your life so seriously. You seem angry.


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Leah October 10, 2016 / 11:44PM
What is wrong with these people protesting these men getting a break. We should be asking how we can help them rebuild their lives. They have a job, they're off the streets. God bless them! Show them some neighborly love and help them! What can we do?
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