Photos by Ryan Kelley/QNS
The tent on 101st Avenue where Sam Esposito (inset) stayed during his hunger strike in Ozone Park.

The city may be willing to negotiate with the residents of Ozone Park over a controversial homeless shelter, according to a local resident who staged a hunger strike in front of the site that sent him to the hospital.

Sam Esposito announced on Aug. 21 in a Facebook post that he has confirmed a meeting with a “major public official” who is interested in discussing the residents’ concerns with a shelter for 113 mentally ill homeless men on 101st Avenue and 86th Street. On Aug. 22, Esposito said in another post that he received two phone calls from two “very influential elected officials” who want to intervene on behalf of Ozone Park.

“I am extremely hopeful and I think we can resolve this situation in a manner, which will be safe for Ozone Park,” Esposito wrote. “Thank you to everyone who signed the petitions, the City Council wants to review the petitions. We really did make a difference together.”

Esposito added that he would not reveal the public official until after the meeting “to avoid anyone trying to interfere with our efforts or sabotage our meeting.”

After organizing a massive town hall meeting in July with officials from the Department of Homeless Services and hiring a lawyer to file suit against the city, Esposito took it even further by launching a hunger strike in August. For two weeks, Esposito camped in a tent on the sidewalk in front of the shelter and refused to eat until officials agreed to meet with the community to hear their concerns.

The strike came to an end on Aug. 20 when Esposito began to feel ill and his blood pressure spiked, sending him to Jamaica Hospital for evaluation, according to another Facebook post. Other than some vitamin deficiencies, doctors told Esposito that he would be fine, he wrote.

Despite the scare, it appears that “something good came out of this after all,” Esposito wrote.


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