By Bill Parry

The Department of Homeless Services is denying that they are preparing to house homeless families in a second motel in East Elmhurst, less than a year after they converted the Westaway Motel into a shelter. Residents have been alarmed since the 172-room Clarion Hotel closed last week, directly across the Grand Central Parkway from LaGuardia Airport at 94-00 Ditmars Blvd.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) lives a few blocks away from the Clarion, and understands the concern over another shelter opening in East Elmhurst, according to a Ferreras spokeswoman.

“Particularly if it’s done without informing the people who live here,” Lillian Zepeda said. “This office will continue to ask DHS for full and timely disclosure about any shelters planned for the area.”

Hotel operator Shimmie Horn purchased the property last February for $18 million and had workers hang temporary banners with the name “The Landing” last week. Horn could not be reached for comment.

While DHS told Ferreras’ office that they do not have plans to convert the property into a shelter, Horn can approach the agency to make a deal.

“It would be unthinkable for the DHS to plan to open a homeless shelter at the Clarion Hotel without any community input after the problems generated by the conversion of the nearby Westway into a shelter,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “In case DHS is planning yet another conversion, I hope it does it taking into consideration concerns from neighbors and community.”

Peralta added that he sponsored a bill approved by the state Senate which would require the city to involve communities for their comments on any plans to open or expand homeless shelters of social service centers.

“DHS has the obligation to inform and notify the community for the reason that neighbors should be allowed to know what’s occurring in their own backyard,” he said.

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