BY JON CRONIN
Several months ago, the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) placed homeless families in a Comfort Inn and Days Inn in Ozone Park with no prior warning to the community.
But the community did not find out that the two hotels were providing shelter for the homeless until the owner of the Comfort Inn, located at 137-30 Redding St., mentioned it to another local business owner, said Donna Daly, the site’s manager.
“There have been no issues,” said Daly. “They’re women with children. Their children go to the local schools.”
Daly noted that the homeless families staying at the hotels are treated like any other guests. She said they have a 9 p.m. curfew, but can stay in their rooms throughout the day. There are on-site caseworkers who discuss job searching and affordable housing with the families. And there is an additional security office that conducts room inspections and hands out three meals a day for the families.
Daly said the few local residents who have been vocally upset over the homeless at the hotels “are making a big deal out of nothing; nobody knew until we told them.”
“We’re just helping out,” Daly said. “We did it during [Hurricane] Sandy.”
Daly said Queens residents lived in the inns for months while their homes were made livable and “there was no issue then.”
She added that there are homeless people currently residing in every hotel near John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.
“They’re everywhere,” she said. “The quality of life is no different.”
A neighbor and local business owner who lives a few doors down from the inns and did not want to be identified said that she did not know that homeless people were staying at the site and had seen nothing unusual in the past few months.
Mike Sam, who lives behind the inns, said he was slightly upset that the city did not tell the community that homeless people were moving in. But he said that as long as the community stays quiet, he has no problem with it.
“Everyone needs a home,” he said.
Spiridovla Kavvadias, who lives four blocks from the inns, said she is sometimes out late at night in the area and sees no one around the Comfort or Days Inn. She added that she would be upset if she saw people lying on the sidewalk, but has so far not heard of any problems at the hotels.
“As long as nothing changes the neighborhood, it’s OK,” she said.
Isaac McGinn, a spokesperson for the DHS, said that the agency has been using rooms at both hotels for months to shelter homeless families with children who would otherwise be turned out onto the street.
“We are using hotels as a bridge to shelter homeless New Yorkers, while we work to increase shelter capacity citywide,” he said.
An NYPD management team is working with the DHS to manage security in shelters, including commercial hotels.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JonathanSCronin