Sliwa leads Maspeth protest against homeless shelters in NYC communities

Republican Mayoral Candidate Curtis Sliwa criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio and Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks for homeless crisis policies. (Photo by Julia Moro)

Republican Mayoral Candidate Curtis Sliwa and about 20 protesters gathered outside of a Holiday Inn in Maspeth on the night of Wednesday, Aug. 11, to rally against neighborhood homeless shelters in New York City. 

The group met at the same spot as they did five years ago when they successfully pushed back on the city’s efforts to turn the Holiday Inn into a permanent homeless shelter.

After the protestors successfully shut down plans for that shelter, Sliwa said the city is again pushing to use the local Holiday Inn to house homeless people. 

Sliwa told the crowd that the Democratic Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams has been talking with incoming Governor Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that would allow outer-borough hotels to be used as mental health and homeless clinics, citing a New York Post article. Adams and his team could not be reached before publication.

“One of the many friends of [Mayor] Bill de Blasio will enable the Holiday Inn to either become a provider of mental health services for the emotionally disturbed or become once again a homeless shelter,” Sliwa said. 

Sliwa and protesters criticized de Blasio and Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks for their handling of the homeless in the city, shouting “dump Steven Banks.”

Community members come out to speak against community homeless shelters. (Photo by Julia Moro)

“You’re in by 10 at night; that’s the curfew,” Sliwa said. “You get kicked out by 7:30 [a.m.] to roam the neighborhoods that you’ve been put into, many of whom never came from those neighborhoods. It creates an adversarial situation with your neighbors and those who are now clients of the Department of Homeless Services, and it’s led to many, many problems.”

Mitch Schwartz, the deputy press secretary for Banks, said that the commissioner had spent his entire career advocating for New Yorkers in need. 

[Banks] knows that we can only solve this crisis if every part of the city does its share to provide shelter and transitional housing to those without homes,” Schwartz said. “The mayor is grateful for the commissioner’s expertise and service, and he looks forward to continuing to fight for equity alongside him.”

Phil Wong, president of the Chinese-American Citizens Alliance, spoke at the rally and detailed his experience protesting the city moving homeless families into the Pan American Hotel back in 2014

“In the middle of the night, a couple of buses rushed in several hundred people into the Pan Am Shelter, and overnight, the hotel was filled with homeless families from all over,” Wong said. “I live right behind the shelter, so I had front row seats.”

According to The New York Times, the Department of Homeless Services notified local officials of the Pan Am move the day before the buses rolled in. 

“The entire city of New York’s homeless policy is a failure,” Wong said. “You see the homeless under the [Long Island Expressway]. You see the homeless in the subways. You see them everywhere. We are looking at outright abuse of our tax dollars.”

Sliwa and the organizers refuse to allow shelters in their neighborhoods, but Sliwa still said they deserve housing somewhere. The Republican candidate recommended the city consider housing people in commercial areas where warehouses are empty.