Homeless families have been living at a Comfort Inn in Ozone Park for nearly five months, but the city apparently didn’t tell anyone in the community about it until this week.
According to a source familiar with the situation, 50 homeless families now reside at the Comfort Inn hotel located at 137-30 Redding St., about a block west of Cross Bay Boulevard; they first arrived at the hotel in October of 2016. Area representatives, however, said on Tuesday that city officials never notified them about it until very recently; a source said the lawmakers got the news on Monday, Feb. 13.
In a joint statement, Councilman Eric Ulrich, state Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato blasted the de Blasio administration for failing to communicate with them and the community about the shelter situation.
“Mayor de Blasio’s failed policy of housing homeless families in hotels is simply unacceptable,” they stated. “These types of shelters are not cost effective and do not offer any real services that actually help homeless families get back on their feet.”
Donna Daly, general manager at the Ozone Park Comfort Inn, told QNS that the city first rented 10 rooms at the hotel back in October, but didn’t begin using all of them immediately. Since then, the city now has homeless residents living in 22 rooms; three rooms are being used by Children’s Community Services (CCS), the nonprofit group managing the residents’ stay at the hotel.
Most of the homeless families residing at the Comfort Inn are women with children, Daly said, and are treated as regular hotel guests. On top of daily housekeeping, they receive consultation from a CCS case manager as well as three square meals a day.
The Ozone Park Comfort Inn is the latest in a number of hotels across Queens that have doubled as homeless shelters in recent years, efforts that sparked a backlash in the communities where the hotels are located. In several instances, local officials weren’t notified until after the homeless guests arrived.
Homeless families began arriving at the Ozone Park Comfort Inn around the same time that the city began moving homeless men into a Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth after weeks of fighting with community residents over a plan to convert the entire hotel into a homeless shelter for adults.
Speaking with QNS by phone, Addabbo criticized the city for continuing to use hotels as temporary homeless shelters, shutting out the community when it comes to planning for them and poorly responding to a homeless population that has increased dramatically for years.
“This is a policy that has plagued this administration,” Addabbo said. “They knew of the crisis but instead of doing something about it for the long-term, they’re shoving people into hotels because they don’t know what to do.”
Opened in 2009, the Comfort Inn has a total of 75 rooms with a maximum guest capacity of 144 persons, according to the hotel’s most recent certificate of occupancy issued by the Department of Buildings in 2010. Superior Redding Holding LLC is listed as the hotel’s owner and operator on the Better Business Bureau‘s website.
QNS is awaiting a response from the city’s Department of Homeless Services to questions about the shelter. This article will be updated once the response is received.
Along with concern about the homeless families at the Comfort Inn, a source familiar with the situation told QNS that local residents have reported quality-of-life problems near the hotel from public urination to lewd acts. However, at this point, those reports have yet to be substantiated.
Daly denied the accusations, stating that the hotel guests aren’t bothering anyone in the community — and that the hotel would tolerate any unruly guests on campus.
“You wouldn’t know they were here if you lived right next door to the hotel,” she said.
“We will work closely with the 106th Precinct to protect the quality of life for all those who live in the vicinity of the hotel,” Ulrich, Addabbo and Pheffer Amato said in their joint statement.