By Bill Parry
City Comptroller Scott Stringer has approved a nearly $24 million permanent contract for the homeless shelter at East Elmhurst’s Westway motel. The city has operated a family shelter at the Westway since July 2014 and it currently houses more than 100 families.
The contract with service provider Women In Need, Inc. was registered with the city Dec. 16 and it expires in June 2019, according to the comptrollers office.
When the city opened the shelter at the Westway, located at 71-11 Astoria Blvd., the community responded with protest rallies and town hall meetings. State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court accusing the Department of Homeless Services of creating an artificial emergency to evade proper siting and procurement procedures.
Simotas also contended that DHS has been “manipulating” the emergency shelter process to avoid dealing with the community. The case is ongoing.
“This contract is another rubber stamp on the decision made unilaterally a year and a half ago without consulting the community,” Simotas said. “This lack of oversight is why I am suing the city and the Department of Homeless Services.”
The Boulevard Family Shelter at the former Pan American hotel in Elmhurst, which opened in June 2014, continues to operate without a permanent contract. Samaritan Village, which operates that facility, submitted a third request for a permanent contract in August. Stringer rejected that request, noting safety issues within the shelter.
Samaritan Village has yet to submit a fourth application, according to the comptroller’s office.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr