BY JON CRONIN
A resident of the building shared with the Comfort Inn homeless shelter in Kew Gardens said during Tuesday night’s Community Board 9 meeting that occupants of the new complex did not get what they expected in their new homes.
The Comfort Inn occupies floors four through nine of the Kewl, which has another 10 floors of 38 renters above it.
“There was no warning. We were blindsided,” said Jonathan Kastin, a Kewl resident.
At CB 9’s meeting, Kastin said that he and his neighbors moved into the luxury complex a few months ago when the building opened, and no one told them that there would be a shelter opening in the building. Kastin said that he and fellow renters were sold on the idea of living in a quiet building that would be ideal for families and children.
He added that renters have been given no answer as to how long the homeless will occupy the building.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) said at the meeting that the city has a 30-month contract with the Comfort Inn.
Koslowitz called the shelter “unacceptable” and said that she wrote a “scathing letter” to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“This is not a place for single homeless men,” she said of the 42 residents who were moved into the Comfort Inn a few weeks ago. “These people deserve permanent housing—not where children are in the same apartment building.”
Koslowitz added that the city is overwhelming her district, referencing her fight to save the Lefferts Boulevard bridge and a proposal to close Rikers Island and utilize the Kew Gardens Courthouse’s jail for prisoners.
“The community can’t handle all of this,” she said.
Raj Rampershad, chairman of CB 9, said the community was never engaged in the decision. Nick Comianni, a CB 9 member, said that he believes many of the homeless being housed in the community have mental-health and addiction issues, and only a few are “down on their luck.”
According to the Department of Homeless Services, a total of 70 percent of the city’s homeless are families.
Sylvia Hack, a CB 9 member, said she was informed that more than half of the homeless are families.
Hack added that she believes the city should raise property taxes on the wealthiest in the city and the money should go toward affordable housing.