Holiday Inn Express in Corona will be phased out as homeless shelter by 2019

Photo via Twitter/DHS

Last September, Corona residents and elected officials were surprised to find out that a Holiday Inn Express was housing homeless families.

Politicians, including Congressman Joseph Crowley, state Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya, slammed the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for not informing the community and arguing that the agency forced the neighborhood “to take on additional burdens without first gathering meaningful input from those who are to be affected.”

But on Aug. 29, DHS Commissioner Steven Banks and Moya announced that the hotel at 113-10 Horace Harding Expwy., which is currently accommodating families in its 50 rooms, will be phased out as location housing homeless families by 2019.

Currently, 35 hotels are being used to house homeless people in Queens and more than 100 hotel rooms are being used for this purpose in City Council District 21, which encompasses Corona, East Elmhurst and parts of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

Photo via Google Maps
Photo via Google Maps

The city announced that it would phase out all 360 cluster sites and hotels by 2021 and would also create 90 new, traditional shelter facilities. DHS is also aiming to house people in their home borough to make it easier to get to school, work, houses of worship and doctors.

“New York City has a moral and legal obligation to provide shelter to those who’ve fallen on hard economic times, victims of domestic abuse and people with disabilities,” Moya said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the affordability gap for renters has widened and we’re seeing more individuals struggle to maintain stable housing. Although the city has used hotels as a temporary stop-gap solution, homeless New Yorkers deserve more suitable housing while they transition back into a home of their own.”

In total, there are 61 shelter facilities across Queens. According to a NY1 report, Queens is home to the most hotel shelters while the Bronx is home to the most cluster sites with 215 of 350 sites concentrated there.

DHS has used several hotels to house homeless people without notifying the community including the Pan Am Hotel in Elmhurst, the Quality Inn in Woodside and the Westway Motor Inn in East Elmhurst. In Maspeth, plans to convert a Holiday Inn into a men’s homeless shelter sparked several protests.

“As we work to turn the tide on homelessness, we are phasing out every single cluster site and commercial hotel facility across the five boroughs, including all remaining 35 commercial hotel facilities in Queens,” Banks said. “Ending use of this location by 2019 is an important step towards that goal.”

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