Chairman Crowley Urges City to Abandon Hotel to Homeless Shelter Conversions and Work with Community on Finding Solutions

Chairman Crowley Urges City to Abandon Hotel to Homeless Shelter Conversions and Work with Community on Finding Solutions

(Queens, NY) – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) urged the City of New York to abandon its approach of converting hotels into homeless shelters. In a letter addressed to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and in response to the recent conversion of a Queens hotel located at 38-05 Hunters Point Avenue into a homeless shelter, Crowley stressed the importance of working with local communities to find suitable solutions for homeless families.

“Once again, the City has decided to blindside our community by converting yet another hotel into a homeless shelter without issuing prior notice or seeking community input, even after assurances were made that they would work to prevent that from happening again,” said Rep. Crowley. “While I remain deeply concerned about the homelessness crisis in New York City, it is beyond troubling that the administration has insisted on this shortsighted, costly approach of converting hotels into shelters despite public plans to phase them out. Simply put, hotels are inadequate for meeting homeless families’ day-to-day needs, and I have repeatedly called on the City to collaborate with local communities on affordable housing development projects and interim housing proposals to stem the tide of this crisis.”

In his letter to Mayor de Blasio, Crowley requests a full accounting of plans for the new shelter at 38-05 Hunters Point Avenue, including who the service provider is, and where they can route any safety concerns that may arise at this location.

The full text of the letter is below:

October 5, 2017

Honorable Bill de Blasio

Mayor, City of New York

City Hall

New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

My office was recently informed that your administration had placed yet another homeless shelter in my district, with no prior notice, and zero community input. Despite a litany of promises of greater accountability, including at least 30 days’ notice, and increased transparency in the process of siting these emergency shelters, this community finds itself once again blindsided with the last-minute announcement of yet another hotel conversion. While I am deeply sympathetic to the plight of homeless families in New York City, your administration has shown a sustained pattern of making promises that you have no intention of keeping regarding these shelters.

Last month, Commissioner Stephen Banks held a press conference outside my Jackson Heights office, announcing the closing of five hotel shelters in Queens, as well as the phasing out of hotel conversions by 2023. Since that announcement, 12 new hotel shelters have been opened across the city, and now another in my district. As I and other local elected representatives have repeatedly pointed out, the use of hotels as shelter sites is problematic for a variety of reasons. Not only are hotels inadequate for meeting homeless families’ day-to-day needs, the approach uproots them from their communities, schools and opportunities to get back on their feet. The prevalence of hotels surrounding our airports puts an uneven burden on communities in Queens that are already struggling to meet their own needs. Additionally, the use of hotels for sheltering saddles taxpayers with the exorbitant cost of putting homeless families and individuals up in subpar housing. These funds should instead be put toward a long-term solution that will provide homeless individuals and families with stability.

It is my sincere hope that you will attempt to provide some of the transparency and accountability that our communities were promised. The residents of Queens Community Board 2 deserve a full accounting of what the plans for this location are, who the service provider in charge is, and where they can route any safety concerns that may arise at this location. I would also ask that you arrange for a meeting in my office with the Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services so we can discuss their apparent indifference to the promises of community engagement and rectify this situation for the future.

Sincerely,

Joe Crowley

Member of Congress, NY-14

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