Lawmakers in northwest Queens are concerned that yet another hotel, this one in East Elmhurst, could be converted by the city into a homeless shelter.
Congressman Joseph Crowley, state Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya said on Monday that a 288-room Courtyard by Marriott located at 90-10 Ditmars Blvd. “has potentially been slated to house a population of up to 60 homeless single men.”
Crowley, Peralta and Moya previously called on the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to be more transparent after constituents told them they witnessed homeless families being bused into a hotel in Corona.
East Elmhurst residents told lawmakers that they heard rumors about the possible conversion of the Marriott and wanted transparency from DHS. The hotel would purportedly act as a transitional home for employed men looking to get permanent housing.
Last month, lawmakers found out that DHS was using a Holiday Inn Express at 113-10 Horace Harding Expwy. in Corona to house homeless families. The city agency began renting out rooms without notifying local residents, Crowley, Peralta or Moya. Constituents noticed families being moved into the Holiday Inn Express and notified their elected officials, according to a spokesperson for Peralta.
“While our communities remain very sympathetic to the ongoing issue of homelessness in New York, it is true that we have already carried our fair share of this problem by hosting no less than five shelters in our neighborhoods,” they said in a statement. “We will fiercely continue in our opposition to additional shelter facilities within the area.
The Courtyard by Marriott is located right across from the Grand Central Parkway and LaGuardia Airport.
However, DHS spokesperson Lauren Gray said that DHS has no plans to rent out rooms or convert this hotel into a homeless shelter.
“There are currently no plans to convert this hotel into a shelter or to temporarily rent rooms to help meet our legal and moral obligation to shelter homeless New Yorkers,” Gray said. “We do have an open-ended RFP and are always looking to review strong proposals, but the Department of Homeless Services has not received a proposal for this location.”
The request for proposals are not site specific and DHS looks at any site.
When reached by phone, the hotel manager, who only said his name was Amr said DHS did not reach out to the hotel with any request to rent rooms for homeless people.
This would not be the first time that the city has turned a hotel in East Elmhurst into a shelter. The Westway Motor Inn in East Elmhurst was converted into a permanent shelter in July 2014 with no community input. Last August, the former site of the Clarion Hotel, located at 94-00 Ditmars Blvd. in East Elmhurst, was converted into a family homeless shelter.
Grace Lawrence, a Corona resident who used to be president of the East Elmhurst-Corona Civic Association for more than 10 years, said East Elmhurst is not the right place for a homeless shelter.
“When you begin to bring the homeless shelter, you’re bringing people from all kinds of backgrounds. That’s the reason why they’re alarmed,” Lawrence said. “People there have nice homes and they feel pretty secure there. We sure do not need any shelters.”