East Elmhurst hotel once rumored to become homeless shelter will shut down in October

Photo courtesy of Facebook/Courtyard by Marriott LaGuardia Hotel

A hotel in East Elmhurst that made headlines last October when rumors surfaced that it would turn into a shelter for homeless men will actually close later this year.

Courtyard by Marriott Laguardia Hotel at 90-10 Ditmars Blvd. is a 288-room hotel off of the Grand Central Parkway and LaGuardia Airport. Last year, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya announced that the hotel “has potentially been slated to house a population of up to 60 homeless single men.”

The Department of Homeless Services and the hotel manager denied the allegations saying there were no plans to rent out any rooms. The East Elmhurst Corona Alliance held a rally in from of the hotel last October to protest the alleged plan.

“We are being oversaturated in East Elmhurst and Corona,” said Talea Wufka, a member of the East Elmhurst Corona Alliance at the rally. “We do not have the supply and demand, although we sympathize and empathize with the homeless. We cannot afford to house it all here. We have enough shelters as is.”

Doreen Lucero, director of sales at the hotel, told QNS at the time that the Department of Homeless Services never reached out to the hotel about renting rooms.

“One hundred percent that it is not the plan,” Lucero said. “We have no intentions to rent rooms to DHS. Hearing the story and concerns were surprising to us because we have no idea where they came from.”

On June 28, the State Department of Labor announced online that the hotel would close on Oct. 1. for “economic” reasons. According to the agency, the hotel’s 144 employees are set to be out of work. Calls and emails to the hotel and Department of Labor were not answered as of press time.

“These rumors are as unequivocally false today as they were in October—and we’re not sure where they began,” said Isaac McGinn, spokesperson for DHS. “DHS has never had a presence in this site, period—nor have we discussed shelter at this location.”

Residents in the area have had to deal with hotels being abruptly converted into homeless shelters. Last year, 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 or elected officials.

In a meeting with the Queens borough president in October 2016, DHS Commissioner Steve Banks said the agency is focusing on getting rid of cluster sites before before phasing out the use of hotels as shelters.

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