By Bill Parry
Republican mayoral challenger state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (D-Staten Island) rallied with dozens of members of Elmhurst United outside the shelter for homeless families in the former Pan American Hotel Wednesday. Malliotakis railed against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policy of sheltering the homeless in hotels.
“I chose Queens for this because Queens has been battered by the de Blasio administration with over 40 shelters in hotels,” Malliotakis said. “We’re here at the Pan Am Hotel with members of the community to discuss the problems that sheltering the homeless in hotels create in the neighborhoods around the city and the common sense solutions that would be implemented in a Malliotakis administration.”
She accused the de Blasio administration of doubling the budget for housing the homeless as the homeless problem continues to get worse. Malliotakis also said de Blasio’s plan to build 90 new shelters around the city misguided because it keeps homeless families in the shelter system instead of transitioning out into permanent housing.
“Quite frankly, the city is throwing away more than $3, 500,ooo per week on funds that could be used to create more supportive housing for individuals and families caught in the revolving door of the shelter system,” Malliotakis said. “If New York City is to solve its homeless crisis, it must first reform the services, programs and policies that are obviously failing our homeless population. Any program that places families in a chaos filled environment where drug use, prostitution and crimes are commonplace, is failing the very people it was meant to help.”
The members of Elmhurst United cheered Malliotakis often. The community organization formed in 2014 after the city moved families into the former Pan American Hotel without any community involvement or prior notice.
“We must stop the warehousing of the homeless in hotels,” Malliotakis said. “Though well intentioned, it’s not a helping hand-up, but a cruel sentence for many New Yorkers to life in limbo, stuck somewhere between the streets and an apartment of their own.”
Malliotakis dismissed a Marist Poll released Tuesday that showed de Blasio leading in the race by 47 points, 65 percentage points to Malliotakis’ 18 percent. Independent Bo Deitl drew 8 percent in the poll that surveyed 1, 195 New York City adults from Sept. 13 to 17.
“My internal polling is very different. The only polling that matters is on election day and I feel good about where we’re at,” Malliotakis said. “Mu numbers show the race much closer. The race has narrowed significantly since I entered the race.”
Malliotakis did not share the results of her internal polling.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr