You can always count on the Department of Homeless Services to be less than forthcoming about what it’s doing under this administration.
It happened in 2014, when a deputy commissioner told Queens residents that the Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst would never be turned into a homeless shelter, and two weeks later it was.
It happened in 2015 when the DHS moved four sex offenders out of the Skyway Men’s Shelter in South Ozone Park because it’s within 1,000 feet of a school, promised not to put any more there and then promptly moved in four new ones.
There’s been plenty more chicanery surrounding the placement of homeless people in Queens since then.
And now the DHS is claiming it was able to start moving indigent men into an old factory in Glendale despite having a signed contract because the document was ready to go and the city Comptroller’s Office had given the agency the OK.
Thing is, the Comptroller’s Office said it “had no communication with DHS before they moved people in and no contract has been submitted to our office.”
The comptroller is a politician hoping to be mayor who’s not above putting a spin on things. But in a dispute over facts between him and the DHS, it’s likely the latter is the dishonest one.
Barring the success of some Hail Mary legal maneuver, there’s no stopping the shelter from becoming fully operational. We can only hope the site won’t be toxic to its residents, that each will learn the skills he needs to move on one day and that everyone nearby will be kept safe. And, alas, we know we can’t count on the DHS to be forthright about any of that.