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City comptroller rejects Pan American shelter contract


May 12, 2015 By Michael Florio

Plans to convert the former Pan America Hotel into a permanent homeless shelter remain uncertain after Comptroller Scott Stringer rejected a contract Monday citing concerns for residents’ safety.

The Department of Homeless Services and the non-profit group Samaritan Village had entered into a 5-year contract to turn the 79-00 Queens Blvd hotel building into a permanent transitional housing shelter.

Stringer said that his decision was largely based on a March report issued by the city’s investigative unit that raised significant concerns about how the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) identifies and takes care of health and safety concerns.

“In light of this [Department of Investigation] report, today, I am rejecting two permanent shelter contracts which I will not approve until my office receives assurances that anyone staying in these facilities will be safe,” Stringer said in a statement. The other shelter is in Manhattan.

Stringer added that before he approves a permanent shelter contract he wants to see all outstanding violations and complaints be corrected.

The 79-00 Queens Blvd contract has been sent back to the mayor’s office for further evaluation.

In the last month, there have been reports of vermin infestation as well as a fire breaking out in one of the units.

“We simply can and must do better on behalf of the 60,000 people, including nearly 25,000 children, who are under our care,” he said.

The mayor announced yesterday that he had created a multi-agency team to combat unhealthy and unsafe conditions at homeless shelters.

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Mr. Stringer’s decision to reject the contract was based on the egregious conditions at the Pan Am Shelter. The 216 family homeless shelter is hard to manage as well as cost prohibitive. Bringing the facility up to code, including adding a required cooking facility in each room, and fixing the building to free it of any violation is expensive. The $42 million DHS is spending on this contract is better spent on housing the homeless in apartments and integrating them into communities thru the use of rent subsidies and vouchers. It is a long term, cost effective and preferred solution to the homeless and their neighbors


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