Blissville braces for homeless shelter 1

Residents of Blissville are expecting the Fairfield Inn & Suites Hotel to be converted to a family homeless shelter by the end of the month.

Residents of the Blissville Civic Association have been told that the Fairfield Inn & Suites Hotel at 52-34 Van Dam St. will officially close on May 16, and begin its new incarnation as one of 90 permanent homeless shelters being planned by the de Blasio administration and the city’s Department of Homeless Services.

The association said in an email to the Chronicle on Tuesday evening that it learned of the date from the hotel’s general manager.

Residents of the community have been fighting to stop the conversion of the building, which is slated to house 154 families, with the potential for more than 300 people.

Ferwah Rizvi of the BCA said they are expecting the shelter to be open less than two weeks later. The residents’ main problem is that Blissville already has two other hotels within a seven-block radius that the DHS is renting out as shelters.

By the end of the month, the homeless are expected to outnumber permanent residents within that seven-block radius.

The city has countered that it will cease using the other two hotels in the coming years as more permanent shelters are built — and after the city first shuts down its cluster housing sites.

“Blissville is not NIMBY,” Jephenie Ramos of the BCA said in the email to the Chronicle, referencing the “Not in my backyard” creed. “It already has two shelters (the City View Inn, 33-17 Greenpoint Ave.) and Sweet Home Suites (39-06 30th St., LIC, next to the LIE) for a total of around 250 homeless men and families. It’s a large number for a small community to absorb, but we are willing in this.

“Three shelters, however, in a small isolated area, is a threat to the very fabric of our community,” she added.

Residents do not believe that filling the new shelter to capacity will allow Home/Life Services, the Brooklyn-based operator, the space needed for what the group says will be a full range of services on-site.

Rizvi told the Chronicle in a telephone interview that the association has heard nothing from the city or Home/Life since a sometimes heated meeting on March 15 at St. Raphael’s Church on Greenpoint Avenue. She also said the neighborhood does not have the facilities and amenities that more than 300 new residents would need.

“There are no grocery stores nearby,” she said. “There are no parks or playgrounds for children. No hospital or medical clinics within half a mile.”

DHS officials did not comment prior to the Chronicle’s deadline on Wednesday.


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