By Mark Hallum
The city Department of Homeless Services met its goal of converting Blissville’s City View Inn into a full service shelter by the start of the 2018-19 school year, bringing the five-block community in Long Island City one step closer to hosting three facilities as part of the mayor’s Turning the Tide on Homelessness initiative.
Since Jan. 19, DHS has used the City View Inn on Greenpoint Avenue as a temporary emergency shelter for up to 114 single men. But as of the first weekend of September it officially houses families with children, according to the a spokesman from the city agency.
“Nobody wants to see families with children or single adults without a roof over their heads on the street, and every night we have a legal obligation to provide shelter,” DHS Commissioner Steve Banks said in May. “With additional high-quality borough-based facilities for single adults opening in the coming months, we will transition to providing shelter, services, and supports to families with children at this location ahead of the seasonal summer increase in families seeking shelter before the next school year.”
According to DHS, families will not be placed in the same facility as single adults and arrangements have been arranged with the city Department of Education to ensure “educational stability” to the children being placed in this location.
The trio of shelters have been heavily opposed by the Blissville community and elected officials, who claim the influx of homeless residents would outnumber the long-time residents who have called the secluded pocket of Long Island City home.
A letter written by the lawmakers to Mayor Bill de Blasio in May called for the city to rescind the plan to convert the Fairfield Inn at 52-34 Van Dam St. into a shelter. Two rallies led by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) at City Hall followed another led by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) at Gracie Mansion.
In November, Sweet Home Suites on Hunters Point Avenue started accommodating families.
Maria Davis, the vice president of the Blissville Civic Association, claimed the residents of Blissville were not opposed to the shelters on “not in my back yard,” or NIMBY, basis.
She said the group’s opposition has more to do with the fact the community lacks simple services such as a laundromat for the incoming homeless as well as the Fairfield Inn’s location nearly adjacent to the Newtown Creek superfund site.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Turning the Tide on Homelessness initiative aims to establish one shelter in each community board district within the city to house the over 60,000 homeless individuals across the city.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall