Residents of Maspeth opposed to the use of hotels as homeless shelters may be happy to learn that “working homeless” have been removed from the Holiday Inn Express, according to Councilman Robert Holden.
Holden’s office put out a release on Aug. 2 claiming that the relocation of the homeless residents from the hotel at 59-40 55th Rd. was revealed in a discussion the lawmaker had with Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Steve Banks.
“I will continue to work with local faith-based organizations to come up with solutions for housing our neighbors who have fallen on hard times,” Holden said. “Smaller, more personal settings are the most effective way for us to take care of our own, as the mayor has requested.”
According to Holden, the property owner, KCM Realty Company, filed a lawsuit in Queens Supreme Court in which it was ruled that the operator of the hotel, New Ram Realty, as well as DHS and service provider Acacia Network, were violating the terms of the lease.
Not only that, but to house a large number of people for more than 30 days was violation of the zoning, according to Holden.
In an email to QNS, DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn did not confirm or deny the hotel is no longer being used as a shelter, but forwarded this statement:
“As we’ve said, we remain committed to ending the use of decades-old stop-gap measures that don’t deliver the quality of services our clients deserve — and we remain focused on continuing to site new high-quality facilities in communities across all five boroughs, so that New Yorkers who fall on hard times have the opportunity to get back on their feet closer to the communities they called home.”
Controversy surrounded the use of hotels as shelters starting in 2016 when the Juniper Park Civic Association under the leadership of Holden at the time performed protests outside the Holiday Inn Express.
The arguments against housing homeless in certain communities have ranged from hotels not being suitable for families or individuals in recovery to neighborhoods lacking resources for homeless people to proximity to schools.
But the de Blasio administration launched a push to house the city’s most indigent as it came to light that there was a homeless crisis with the population ranging anywhere between 60,000 to 70,000.
Part of this push was a 2017 pledge by the de Blasio administration to phase out the use of hotel conversions by 2019 paired with the Turning the Tide on Homelessness initiative.
Turning the Tide aims to places shelters in communities where homeless individuals come from in order to help them maintain ties to family.