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Pan Am Approved As Permanent Shelter On Fourth Try

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Feb. 10, 2016 Staff Report

The homeless shelter at the former Pan Am hotel has been approved for a formal contract after first receiving three rejections from the City Comptroller.

According to Eric Sumberg, spokesperson for City Comptroller Scott Stringer, a $23.8 million contract between the Department of Homeless Services and shelter provider Samaritan Village was approved on Friday.

There are some conditions to the deal.

Samaritan Village must develop a construction plan for kitchens in the residences and must construct a playground and outdoor recreation area within nine months, Sumberg said.

So far, $14.5 million is registered to be paid through that period. The DHS will review Samaritan Village’s performance in June and if it is deemed satisfactory, the agency will pay the remaining $9 million to the end of the full contract, June 30, 2017.

Samaritan Village and the DHS originally set up a temporary homeless shelter at the Pan Am on an emergency contract in 2014, to substantial outrage from the local community, who were not informed beforehand. Neighbors and elected officials have also argued since then that the site is not suitable for a homeless shelter, citing in particular the lack of individual kitchens, which goes against City regulations.

The Comptroller rejected Samaritan Village’s bid for a permanent contract here three times, in May, July and August of last year, due to concerns over the DHS’ handling of health and safety violations.

This time around, “the Department of Homeless Services has provided the Comptroller’s office with the required documentation that health and safety violations have been cured or that there are plans in place to address those violations,” Sumberg said.

Despite Friday’s approval, Stringer maintains serious concerns about the DHS’ facilities City-wide.

The Comptroller announced that he is calling on the City to conduct “an immediate and thorough review” of safety conditions at every commercial hotel being used to house homeless families, after a mother and three children were stabbed at a Staten Island Ramada Inn Wednesday morning.

This announcement also comes on the heels of a December Comptroller’s audit which found security lapses, service problems and “numerous” health and safety concerns in DHS facilities, as well as a January analysis which found more than 18,700 violations at shelter sites throughout the City.

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