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File photo: Jenna Bagcal/QNS

The city has removed residents from a College Point homeless shelter to hotel rooms to cut down on crowding in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The controversial women’s 200-bed homeless shelter, which opened in College Point last year at 20th Avenue and 127th Street, will be temporarily closed until the fall, according to Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for the Department of Homeless Services (DHS). 

At DSS, we’re continuing to implement tiered strategies and proactive initiatives to combat COVID-19, protect the New Yorkers who we serve, and ensure anyone who needs it is connected immediately to care or to isolation — and the use of commercial hotels is central to this work,” McGinn said in an email to QNS. 

All of the women have been relocated to hotels but the agency cannot confirm specific locations that they may be using to provide temporary shelter where social service recipients are residing protected by NYS Social Services Law. 

It’s part of the agency’s efforts to “proactively” relocate thousands of individuals from targeted shelters to commercial hotel settings “out of an abundance of caution,” including seniors and single adults from larger congregate locations, who are not sick at this time, McGinn said. 

As of Memorial Day Weekend, the agency has relocated approximately 10,000 individuals — well over half of all the single adults experiencing homelessness — to hotel rooms. Another 1,000 people are expected to be relocated to hotel rooms this week. 

The agency is anticipating to reach approximately 11,000 individuals in commercial hotel settings by next week. 

“Every day, we’re redoubling our efforts and evolving with this situation to ensure we’re supporting our clients in all that we do — and we continue to explore new strategies and policy responses as this situation unfolds,” McGinn said. 

Within its shelters, the agency is taking steps to implement and enforce social distancing, including reorganizing/rearranging beds, spacing rooms out so that chairs, for example, are at least six feet apart, stricter room capacity limits, extending and staggering meal times, limiting gatherings, and canceling group activities, etc.

The agency has also provided masks and face coverings to all frontline DHS and shelter staff and clients as well. At locations in use by the agency, additional security services are provided to help limit gatherings outside of the location, enforce social distancing and encourage the consistent use of face masks.

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