Sept. 16, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
The city has been putting up homeless families in a Corona hotel without informing the community, several local politicians said in a statement.
Senator Jose Peralta, Congressman Joe Crowley, and Assembly Member Francisco Moya released a joint statement earlier this week critical of the Department of Homeless Services for housing homeless families in the hotel in secret.
The politicians wrote that the Department of Homeless Services had been housing families in the Holiday Inn Express at 113-10 Horace Harding Expressway for “months,” though it is not clear exactly how long or how many families lived there.
“The number of rooms being utilized for the purpose of housing the homeless has routinely exceeded thirty to forty percent of the building’s capacity, and neither elected officials nor the community were notified,” they wrote.
“Although the community is extremely sympathetic to the homelessness crisis, and we know that many are just a paycheck away from becoming homeless themselves, it is our hope that this hotel is not converted into a permanent homeless shelter,” the statement continued.
“The Department of Homeless Services is renting some rooms at this location to help meet its legal obligation to provide shelter to homeless New Yorkers who would otherwise be sleeping on the street,” confirmed Lauren Gray, a spokeswoman for DHS.
However, she added that there are currently no plans to convert the hotel in to a permanent shelter, “but New York City’s legal obligation to provide shelter to a rising number of homeless New Yorkers has created a need to open additional shelters and rent hotel rooms across the city.”
This comes soon after DHS confirmed that it was housing other homeless families in a hotel in Woodside, and after an uproar over proposed plans to turn a Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth in to a shelter.
The Maspeth hotel owner backed out of the project amid community protests.
“News that a permanent conversion may be taking place is especially troubling following the City’s failed attempt to convert the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth into a shelter this month,” the politicians wrote.
“With five permanent homeless shelters already operating in this region of Queens, our communities have contributed more than their fair share to alleviate the homelessness crisis that we are facing in New York City.”
“A successful effort to address the pervasive issue of homelessness starts with an open dialogue between DHS, elected officials, and community residents, not by forcing a neighborhood to take on additional burdens without first gathering meaningful input from those who are to be affected,” they added.