Stop converting hotels into shelters

By Anna Orjuela

Since taking office more than two years ago, Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) have converted at least nine hotels into homeless shelters, most of them in Queens and Brooklyn. There may be more as these conversions are usually made in a stealthy manner and some communities are not aware of the changeover until months later, as the residents of Jamaica Hills have recently experienced.

Although a few of these conversions were legal, the majority were converted illegally, with no notification to the community or elected officials until it was already a “done deal.”

By converting every hotel available into homeless shelters, the mayor is depleting precious accommodations for tourists and visitors to New York City. Last year, he spent $100,000 to $200,000 of taxpayer funds to hire Laura Santucci to bring the 2016 Democratic presidential convention to New York City. As reported by the New York Post, our mayor pulled out all the stops to try to land the convention—from dangling the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as a hip venue to naming a high-powered host committee that pledged to raise millions to cover the bill.

By permitting hotels to easily and illegally convert into homeless shelters, de Blasio is interfering with the laws of supply and demand at the expense of consumers. Since there are fewer accommodations available, hotel operators will ultimately increase their rates. Mayor de Blasio is not only making the landlords of homeless shelters rich, he is making these hotel owners rich.

On Jan. 6, Samaritan Village re-submitted a revised and shortened Pan Am contract to the comptroller’s office. As a watchdog of the taxpayers’ money, Comptroller Scott Stringer is in a position to set things right. As tax dollars should not be used to bail out banks that took excessive risk for personal gain, taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidize the hotel industry. I urge the comptroller to reject the Pan Am contract for the fourth and final time.

Anna Orjuela

Member of Elmhurst United

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