By Bill Parry
The city opened a new homeless shelter for 200 single women in the Dutch Kills section of Long Island City this week in response to a 9 percent increase in the number of adult women coming into the shelter system. The Verve Hotel at 40-03 29th St., becomes the second shelter the Department of Homeless Services has opened this year. Both of those shelters are in western Queens.
“We’re seeing more single adult women entering our shelter system and we want to ensure we can provide shelter and services, including employment services and clinical services to these women as they rebuild their lives,” City Hall spokeswoman Ishanee Parikh said, adding that there is only one other shelter in the Community District, the Westway Hotel.
DHS officials said the notification process began Oct. 1 and they have been working closely with faith leaders and members of the community over the last several weeks to ensure a smooth opening. The Verve, which will keep its present name, becomes the 25th shelter to open during the de Blasio administration.
“The administration’s proposal for a homeless shelter for women at the Verve Hotel in Dutch Kills comes with many concerns,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “While acknowledging the homeless crisis in our city and with a firm desire to help and not demonize these women, the community’s concerns and questions must be addressed. Questions about size of the facility, the security plans for it and the surrounding area, as well as the services that would be provided to these women and the number of hotels in the area, are all valid concerns that I share with my constituents.”
DHS officials say the Verve Hotel will have a robust security team that will ensure safety for its clients and residents in the area surrounding the facility, with supervision around the clock. Security will be stationed on all six floors and the front entrance will be fully equipped with an x-ray scanner, hand wand scanner and three security personnel at all times.
As far as onsite supportive services, officials say there will be programming that will include health/home services, clinical services to help engage clients in mental health treatment, and daily groups discussing money management, savings programs and independent living skills.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said residents have been worried about the proliferation of hotels in the Long Island City. There are currently 25 hotels, with another 26 in the planning or construction phase according to the LIC Partnership.
“The residents of Dutch Kills have rightly been concerned that the massive number of hotels opening in their midst would be converted to other uses and this news confirms their fears,” Gianaris said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr