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Queens Chronicle

EXCLUSIVE: Koslowitz again supports jail plan after Comfort Inn compromise

City will house homeless families, not single men, at the Kew Gardens hotel in June

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Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 4:33 pm

The city will start housing homeless families instead of single men at the Comfort Inn in Kew Gardens beginning in June, and the hotel will stop being used as an emergency homeless shelter altogether by Feb. 12, 2019.

That’s according to Human Resources Adminstration Commissioner Steve Banks, who made those promises in a Monday letter to Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills).

In return, Koslowitz — who shared the correspondence exclusively with the Chronicle — said she will renew her support for the reactivation of the Queens House of Detention as a jail, should the facilities on Rikers Island close as planned.

The lawmaker exclusively told the Chronicle two weeks ago that she was yanking her support for the QHD proposal, citing a larger-than-planned influx of homeless men the city was housing at the 123-28 82 Ave. hotel just a block away.

“It was a matter of a few weeks that it all transpired, right after it was in your paper,” Koslowitz said Wednesday. “I got the commitment Friday. The commissioner called me on Friday and I told him I wanted it in writing.

“I’m happy that he’s changing it to families and that we’re not going to have the men just walking around anymore,” she added. “I get calls from people in the community who think they’re being followed.”

As of the start of February, there were 132 single men being housed in 84 rooms within the Comfort Inn — the building the hotel is located in also has 38 apartments on the upper floors.

In his letter to Koslowitz, Banks said the “exceptionally cold weather” this winter has been “particularly challenging” in terms of the number of homeless individuals in immediate need of housing — which the city must provide by law to all who seek it.

“In June, we plan to cease using this location to provide emergency shelter for single adults and to instead use it to meet summertime emergency capacity needs for families with children, which typically increase dramatically when the school year ends,” Banks wrote. “As we discussed on Friday night, we will then cease all use of this location within 12 months, which means that effective Feb. 12, 2019, we will not be using the location to provide emergency shelter for families or single adults.”

Banks did not give a projected number of rooms that would be utilized once the site transitions from housing single men to families, but Koslowitz said she anticipates the city will continue renting 84 of them.

One community leader, who declined to be named, told the Chronicle on Wednesday that he was leery of the deal, adding that it wouldn’t surprise him if the city backed out of it at some point.

“I just don’t trust the city or the mayor,” he said. “Although the letter sounds categorical, I can see them saying in February that things have changed.”

But if the city does renege on the agreement, he says he has faith in Koslowitz “holding a big press conference to say the Rikers deal is off.” On its face, though, the leader said he believes community opposition may diminish somewhat with families living at the hotel instead of just men.

“I don’t think many people would have problems with families and kids, as opposed to single men,” he said.

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1 comment:

  • thefilthofforesthillsqueens posted at 5:57 pm on Tue, Feb 20, 2018.

    thefilthofforesthillsqueens Posts: 20

    To the Community Leader who did not have the backbone to give their name and said:
    “I don’t think many people would have problems with families and kids, as opposed to single men,” he said.

    WRONG. People have PROBLEMS with any homeless shelter DUMPED in their community (especially when said community does NOT have any homeless) regardless if they are families with kids or single men, Having lived in the past at the awful community of Jamaica, where there are TONS of homeless shelter, many with families, THEY ARE PROBLEMATIC, not matter what. The fact that you have kids are homeless goes to the types of people in shelters. Who has children when you cannot even provide the basis roof over your head.

    One could only imagine what that Comfort Inn looks like with all those homeless men, that I see wandering around Forest Hills asking for money looks likes. AND where was Koslowitz when that hotel was in the planning stages. It did not take a genius to figure out it was going to be a homeless shelter.

    Time for Koslowitz to step down and stop collecting a political welfare check paid for by hard working tax payers. You are a detriment to the community and you obviously cannot serve the community and its constituents properly. You have sold this community out, along with Queens BP Melinda Katz and of course our Mayor, whose objective is to destroy every single community in Queens and beyond with bad and irresponsible policies.

    She must have taken a page out of the Jamaica & SE Queens political playbook, do NOTHING, but make sure you get your photo taken and just say anything.