By Bill Parry
The city will begin sheltering adult homeless families at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in the Blissville section of Long Island City later this month.
The Department of Homeless Services notified Community Board 2 and elected officials on Feb. 13 that priority would be given to families with roots in the district.
“This high-quality facility will be the first of its kind in this community district, offering 154 adult families from Queens the opportunity to be sheltered in their home borough, closer to their support networks and communities they called home as they get back on their feet,” DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn said. “Working together with neighbors and nonprofit service provider Home/Life, we’re confident that these families will be warmly welcomed — and through collaborative support and compassion, we will make this the best experience it can be for these individuals as they get back on their feet.”
Programming at the facility, located at 52-34 Van Dam St., will include case management, housing-placement assistance, health and mental services, and on-site employment counseling. Home/Life will provide around-the-clock security with four guards per shift, and 95 security cameras have been installed throughout the building and across the grounds of the shelter, where there will be a 10 p.m. curfew for residents, according to DHS.
Once local pol applauded the city’s most recent effort to provide a safe space for residents without homes, but demanded officials look beyond the Blissville area and Queens itself for shelters because he argued both are already at capacity.
“It’s important that the city provide individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness with shelter and resources, ensuring opportunities for them to find work and permanent, affordable housing,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “However, DHS has been reckless in their use of commercial hotels as temporary shelters throughout Queens and especially in this district. We already house many more homeless individuals than come from the district so we are doing more than our fair share in being a part of the solution to this crisis.”
Last summer, DHS began using the City View Inn — just around the block from the Fairfield Inn — as a shelter, before it claimed space in September inside the Best Western hotel at 38-05 Hunters Point Blvd. and the Quality Inn on Queens Boulevard in Woodside.
And Van Bramer said the trend of transforming commercial inns into hubs for the homeless must stop.
“There comes a time when DHS’ over-reliance on hotels must be called out,” Van Bramer said. “The Mayor’s Turning the Tide plan on getting out of hotels as shelters and bringing balance to each community board is simply not working. This proposal is yet another commercial hotel being repurposed as a shelter. The Mayor and the Department of Homeless Services are failing us here.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr