BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Western Queens elected officials sent a joint letter on Monday to Mayor Bill de Blasio to ask him to rescind plans for a proposed adult homeless shelter at the Fairfield Inn in the Blissville section of Long Island City.
Currently, the neighborhood is home to two homeless shelters—Sweet Home Suites, located at 38-05 Hunters Point Ave., and the City View Inn, located at 33-17 Greenpoint Ave.—which are less than a half-mile away from the proposed shelter, located at 52-34 Van Dam St.
In the letter, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) and Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Long Island City), state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said that the neighborhood is “inundated with shelters.”
“According to the Turning the Tide on Homelessness in NYC plan, all neighborhoods in the city would be equally responsible for hosting homeless shelters,” the letter read. “This is not the case in Blissville. The request for a third shelter in such close proximity to two existing ones oversteps reasonable limits.”
Nolan said that she is also concerned for families who would seek shelter at the hotel sites.
“The use of hotels as shelters is inappropriate,” said Nolan. “Hotel rooms cannot serve as functional living spaces. Hotel rooms do not provide adequate space or services for families with children, are frequently located far from basic amenities and mass transit, and are not suitable for long-term use.”
According to the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the Fairfield Inn would be the first facility dedicated to serving adult families—individuals over 18 years—in the community.
“Our goal is to offer homeless New Yorkers from Queens the opportunity to be sheltered in their home borough, closer to their support networks, including jobs, healthcare, family, social services and communities they called home, and we will be prioritizing placement of individuals from Queens, particularly Community District 2, at this residence,” a DHS spokesman said.
The Fairfield Inn will provide shelter for approximately 154 adult families, but individuals living within Community Board 2 will be prioritized.
“Homelessness is a citywide challenge that requires a citywide solution, which is why the mayor put forward a borough-based plan to connect people to the support networks they need to get back on their feet and into permanent housing,” said Jaclyn Rothenberg, the deputy press secretary at the mayor’s office. “Our plan distributes resources and responsibility in a fair way for the first time in our city’s history. This decades-old challenge wasn’t created overnight and it won’t be solved overnight, but we are headed in the right direction.”
In March, the DHS sent a letter to community boards and council members to lay out the mayor’s Turning the Tide plan.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.