Homeless residents begin moving into Pan Am Hotel in Elmhurst

By Bill Parry

The Comet Civic Association of Maspeth and Elmhurst is planning a protest for Tuesday evening at The Pan American Hotel at 79-00 Queens Blvd. The group’s President Roe Daraio claims that Samaritan Village, a Briarwood-based social service provider, made a proposal to place 200 homeless people in the hotel, including children, in a plan supported by Mayor de Blasio and approved by Comptroller Scott Stringer.

A spokesman for Stringer said in order to address the homeless crisis, the comptroller “approved an emergency declaration for family shelters across the city so that DHS can house homeless families.” He went on to say that Stringer “has not weighed in on the appropriateness of any specific location” but believes adequate community notification is critical.

The first of the residents moved in last Friday and Councilman Daniel Dromm is angry that the city Department of Homeless Services provided little notice.

“I am deeply concerned that DHS plans to use the old Pan Am Hotel on Queens Boulevard as a homeless shelter,” Dromm said. “Elmhurst has already had to bear a huge burden of services for the less fortunate. One block away is the Metro Motel, another homeless shelter. I am upset that I was only informed that 36 homeless families would be given shelter at the Pan Am hotel as it was actually happening at around 4:45 p.m. last Friday night.”

Dromm will participate in the protest Tuesday at 6 p.m., according to his spokeswoman.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.