August 30, by Nathaly Pesantez
The Holiday Inn Express, which has been renting out rooms to the city to house the homeless for more than a year, is being phased out as a shelter by 2019 as part of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to stop using hotels as shelters throughout the city.
The announcement was made yesterday by Assembly member Francisco Moya, who was joined by Steve Banks, the commissioner for the Department of Social Services (DSS), and Assembly member Jefferson Aubry.
Moya said that he supported the city’s decision to phase out the use of the hotel, located at 113-10 Horace Harding Expressway, arguing that sheltering the homeless in hotels is not the best solution.
“Although the city has used hotels as a temporary stop-gap solution, homeless New Yorkers deserve more suitable housing while they transition back into a home of their own,” Moya said in a statement.
Banks said the decision is a step toward raising standards for homeless care and ensuring that the homeless have access to facilities within their neighborhoods that can help re-stabilize their lives.
The city, which began renting out rooms for the first time at the Holiday Inn Express last year, was criticized by state Sen. Jose Peralta, Congressman Joe Crowley, and Assembly member Moya for not notifying them in advance that the hotel would be sheltering the homeless. Currently, the city is renting 50 rooms.
The Holiday Inn Express was the subject of controversy last year for housing a Level 2 sex offender, who was moved out after residents at the shelter pointed out he was on the state sex offender registry.
The city currently utilizes 360 cluster [private apartment buildings] and commercial hotels to house the homeless. It is looking to reduce that number and increase the capacity of traditional shelters across the five boroughs.
Out of 61 total shelter facilities in Queens, more than half, or 35, are commercial hotel facilities, according to Moya.