MASPETH, Queens – Hundreds of Maspeth residents gathered to protest the city’s move to turn a local hotel into a homeless shelter.
Inside a packed school gym with little air-conditioning and short tempers, members of the de Blasio administration arrived Thursday to break the news to the community that a homeless shelter would open in their community.
“One of the changes I wanted to make was to create a process in which we open new shelters and we give the community notification,” said Steven Banks, the department of homeless services commissioner. “Knowing full well it would lead to meetings like this.”
In Maspeth, Queens, Banks did not receive a warm welcome.
“The plan in respect to the shelter is an October 1st opening,” Banks said.
In this case a Holiday Express Inn Hotel – located right off the Long Island Expressway – will be turned into a family homeless shelter, whether the community wants it.
“No one here is fooled,” one angry resident said. “You bust people from God knows where just so you can give them a zip code.”
“If you keep building homeless shelters, you’ll bring more and more homeless people,” another said. “It’s fact of economics, if you subsidize something you’ll get more of it.”
“The reason why we want to open that shelter is to take a building and turn it into a purpose built shelter,” Banks said.
As the city continues to move forward with plans for the shelter, the community is concerned with a lack of notice, security and quality of life in their neighborhood.