BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
As plans to convert the shelter in Elmhurst’s Pan Am building into a permanent facility advance, one community group is charging that the proposal violates City law.
The civic organization Elmhurst United released a statement on Monday calling the proposal illegal. This group has been a leading voice in the protests against the shelter that have sprung up since it was instated on an emergency contract in June.
Elmhurst United’s primary argument is that a permanent facility on this site would violate the City Administrative Code’s requirement for cooking facilities within each shelter unit, which the Pan American building lacks.
“Warehousing the homeless is not providing a solution; it just makes hotel owners wealthy at the expense of NYC taxpayers and the poor,” the organization wrote in its statement.
The DHS did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.
The agency addressed the lack of kitchens in its fair share analysis, noting that three meals a day are provided for each resident.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said the lack of cooking facilities, among other aspects of the former hotel, alarmed her as well.
“With no cooking facilities, very small rooms, bunk beds – it hardly seems cost efficient,” Stavisky said. “I think it’s too much money, too much work required and too many people.”
The contract proposal for the Pan Am facility, known officially as the Boulevard Family Residence, runs about $42 million for five years, with 216 rooms costing about $1,500 each per month.
Elmhurst United released their statement on the heels of a mandated public hearing held in Manhattan last Thursday, attended by Stavisky and DHS Deputy Agency Chief Contracting Officer Calvin Pitter, as well as Community Board 4 and local residents.
Stavisky and CB4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol both indicated that the DHS did not provide new information or spark new dialogue at the hearing.
“There was not much new to take away, pretty much just a sense of frustration,” Stavisky said.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.