All but two hotels within the boundaries of Community Board 10 are being used to house homeless people, with the latest being the Sheraton JFK on South Conduit Avenue.
The announcement that the Sheraton is being used to house the undomiciled — made at CB 10’s meeting last Thursday — comes more than a year after Mayor de Blasio announced the city would stop using such sites to alleviate the growing homelessness crisis by 2023, and open 90 new shelters in the five boroughs. A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services says the city is already in the process of not ending the use of some hotels as temporary shelters.
“In the interim, while we are phasing out cluster units as first priority and increasing high-quality borough-based shelter capacity citywide, we are using commercial hotels as a bridge to provide shelter to homeless New Yorkers, including families with children, who would otherwise be turned out into the street,” the spokeswoman said.
She did not say when the hotels in South Queens would no longer be used.
The city is renting 100 of the 150 rooms at the Sheraton for “adult families experiencing homelessness,” and has been since April 18.
It now joins five other commercial hotels in Ozone Park and South Ozone Park being used by the DHS. Three are family shelters — The Days Inn and Comfort Inn, both on Redding Street, house 30 and 54 families with children, respectively, and the Hilton Garden Inn on 134th Street in South Ozone Park has 60. The EconoLodge on Rockaway Boulevard is a “single adult site” with 48 people. The View Inn and Suites JFK, on the Van Wyck Expressway service road, has 62 rooms being rented out by the city. The Skyway Men’s Shelter, formerly a motel, is also housing 124 homeless men.
Only two hotels within CB 10’s area are not being utilized by the city — the Surfside Motel in Howard Beach and the Crossbay Motor Inn in Ozone Park. Many of the hotels lack kitchens in the rooms, a violation of the law that states there must be one where homeless people are being housed. The city has exempted itself from its own regulation, citing an emergency. The five boroughs have experienced a spike in homeless individuals, with the population reaching record numbers in recent years. At press time Wednesday afternoon, there were 59,284 people in the shelter system — 22,025 of whom were children.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) criticized City Hall’s handling of the homeless issue.
“They want a quick fix and to just check off the problem,” Addabbo said. “It’s easy to put them into a hotel.”
The senator is more than skeptical of the mayor’s promise to stop using the commercial sites in the coming years.
“How could we believe it?” he asked.
More than 100 cluster and hotel sites have been phased out by the DHS in the past year, from 647 buildings to 547 — including the Par Central Motor Inn in Jamaica Hills, which ceased to be a shelter earlier this year.
Addabbo also slammed the city for poor judgment in picking the hotels, singling out the EconoLodge.
“How do you put homeless individuals in a hotel near a casino?” he asked, referring to Resorts World.