By Bill Parry
During the spring and summer of 2014, the Asian community rose up against the conversion of the 216-unit Pan American Hotel — located at 79-00 Queens Blvd. — into a shelter for homeless families. Several heated rally and one explosive town hall meeting at the Elks Lodge took place.
In July, city Comptroller Scott Stringer registered a new $66.2 million contract between the city’s Department of Homeless Services and operator Samaritan Village to keep the Boulevard Family Residence open for six more years.
Last week, City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) was honored by Samaritan Village for his years of service to his constituents living in the shelter during his third annual backpack giveaway. Dromm has delivered hundreds of backpacks, notebooks and other school supplies to students of all ages living at the shelter. In the past, Dromm has successfully secured Halloween costumes for children there.
When the rallies erupted outside the shelter, Dromm worked with the de Blasio administration to take the children on field trips so they did not have to hear the angry protesters outside their temporary home. Dromm also drew the wrath of the community when he tried to quell the anger at the town hall meeting and needed a police escort from the 110th Precinct to leave the Elks Lodge along with state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing).
“All of these families are my constituents,” Dromm said. “While I’m touched by this recognition, as their Council member, it is my duty to serve them to the best of my ability. The free backpacks and school supplies I secured will enable these children to excel at school. The Halloween costumes I provided brought joy and excitement to young people who have suffered much hardship. For three years, I have worked to meet the needs of these families, and I will continue to do so throughout my tenure in the Council.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr