BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
An East Elmhurst hotel that was rumored to be converted into a homeless shelter for men in October is set to close this fall.
On June 28, the state’s Department of Labor announced that the Courtyard by Marriott LaGuardia Hotel, located at 90-10 Ditmars Blvd., will officially close on Oct. 1 for economic reasons. The closure would leave 144 employees without work.
In October, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst) and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) announced to the community that the 288-room hotel was slated to house up to 60 homeless men.
Both the city’s Department of Homeless Services and the director of sales at the hotel had said that there were no plans to use the hotel as a shelter. But Peralta said that due to the hotel’s financial status, it was attempting to work with the DHS to rent rooms.
“Clearly, the hotel has been facing financial issues for some time and in efforts to prevent them from shutting their doors, the owners contemplated the possibility of converting the hotel into a homeless shelter,” Peralta told the Queens Tribune. “We alerted the community about this particular situation since we heard from the employees that transforming the hotel into a shelter was a strong alternative to closing the hotel. Unfortunately, because the community got wind of the fact about the chances of the hotel being transformed into a shelter, the owners were left with limited options. I understand there is a homeless crisis in the city, but converting hotels into shelters without any real community input is, simply put, wrong.”
Following the announcement that the hotel would be converted into a homeless shelter, the East Elmhurst Corona Alliance held a protest in front of the hotel.
At that rally, Talea Wufka—a member of the group—had said that the alliance sympathized with the homeless, but that neighborhoods such as East Elmhurst and Corona didn’t have the support or demand to house them.
Adding to local residents’ frustration was the fact that a Holiday Inn Express at 113-10 Horace Harding Expressway in Corona had discretely been renting rooms to the DHS without notifying the community earlier that year. However, the DHS argued that it was the city’s legal obligation to house homeless New Yorkers.
Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would no longer use hotels and private apartments in “cluster sites” to house the growing homeless population, but would instead add 90 new city shelters, although it has not yet been revealed where the shelters would be located.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org