BY JON CRONIN
Following the saturation of homeless shelters being opened throughout Queens, the state Senate passed a bill last week that would give communities advance notice and more involvement when shelters are created or hotels are used for temporary housing. The legislation would also require the city to provide a publicly available list of temporary sites.
The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) and co-sponsored by state Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and is now being reviewed by the Assembly’s cities committee.
The legislation would require that communities be notified 45 days in advance of a new shelter. Previously, communities were only given 30 days notice. Next, a hearing would be held by the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services on the siting of permanent shelters. The legislation would also allow community boards to request public hearings on a shelter. The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) would then be required to include community input in its proposals. The city would also be required to give a one-week notice to a community when moving homeless people into a hotel.
“This proposal will guarantee transparency and a desperately needed public exchange when the city is choosing locations for shelters,” Addabbo said. “Specifically, it requires advance notification to local officials and community boards when hotels and motels are being eyed for use as homeless shelters. In addition, the legislation would expand the review and community-input process for permanent shelters housing homeless individuals and families.”
The bill would also require the DHS to inspect and ensure that sites are safe, submit a list of those sites and report the sites’ usage and proposed usage to local elected officials. During any weather emergency in which the homeless are being housed temporarily, the community must be notified within 48 hours afterwards.
“While I believe placing homeless individuals into hotels is a failing policy implemented by our mayor, his administration should inform the local elected officials and public when such action is taken,” Addabbo said. “Good government demands open communication among community members, elected officials, service providers and other stakeholders in the face of difficult challenges, including our efforts to find effective solutions to housing the homeless. If we are to provide the best possible housing and assistance for people who are in desperate need of shelter and services, notifying and working cooperatively with local communities is not only key, but absolutely necessary.”
Additional co-sponsors in the Senate include Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst), Diane J. Savino (D-Staten Island), Marisol Alcantara (D-Manhattan) and Jesse Hamilton (D-Brooklyn).
State Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley (D-Brooklyn) is the bill’s sponsor in the Assembly.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.