MASPETH, Queens – The city has ruled it won’t turn the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express into a full homeless shelter because its ardent opposition but locals are still furious homeless men were snuck in without any notification.
“One of the changes I wanted to make was to create a process in which we open shelters and we give the community notification,” NYC Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks said during an August 11 community meeting in Maspeth, where tempers flared over the proposed conversation of the Holiday Inn Express off the Long Island Expressway.
On Monday, residents were out on full force again as they have been for nearly every night in the last two months. But this evening was unlike any other as the city quietly moved in 25 homeless men.
Bryan Barnwell, a Democratic nominee for the 30th District, watched the entire process unfold Monday at approximately 2:30 p.m.
“I said to myself this looks kind’ve fishy so I investigated,” Barnwell said. “We go to back entrance and go to the back of property to see what’s going on and I see an empty van there with 10 people in it. They were adult males.”
Barnwell believes the city snuck homeless men “100 percent.”
The NYPD confirmed there is security at the hotel but as PIX11 has reported since fall of 2013, the homeless males have been scattered throughout the property. They’re being placed along regular hotel-paying customers who are being uninformed of the city’s practice.
“It’s terrible how these people are being treated,” Ann Poppa, a demonstrator at Monday’s rally said.
She says it’s not about being anti-homeless, it’s about finding a better solution to a problem that since October 1 has established 12 record highs in the homeless population. It’s an epidemic that finds no consistent type of social services or in the case of the majority of the now 69 commercial hotels that do not even provide homeless with a kitchen.
“The only place is eat is at McDonald’s and the only place is hangout is a children’s park across the street where people take their babies,” Poppa said. “And it’s not right.”
Debra Cox says ushering the homeless under the radar is simply the mayor trying to temporarily trying to silence a community who has been vocal for the last 60 days.
“This is not solving the situation,” Cox said. “This is just putting a band-aid because the mayor doesn’t want to hear Maspeth and the other groups that are against the way they’re treating homeless.”
The Department of Homeless Services responded to the protests in a statement to PIX11.
“Due to local opposition to housing homeless New Yorkers, we have not been able to convert this site into a full shelter at this time. We are renting rooms for employed single adults and providing onsite services and security.”
Holiday Inn Express management had no comment in response to the city moving homeless adults into the hotel.