June 16, 2015 By Michael Florio
Despite fears from residents and local officials, a shuttered East Elmhurst hotel will not be converted into a homeless shelter, according to the Department of Homeless Services.
Many had feared that the Clarion Hotel LaGuardia Airport, located at 94-00 Ditmars Blvd, was about to be converted into a DHS homeless shelter.
“We currently have no plans to use the site,” a DHS spokesman said.
State Sen. Jose Peralta said that he hopes that DHS sticks to its word.
“It is my hope that the Department of Homeless Services is not planning to open a homeless shelter at the former Clarion Hotel LaGuardia Airport,” Peralta said.
However, people still fear that the owner of the Clarion, Shimmie Horn, may still try to strike a deal with DHS based on his family’s history of turning hotels and warehouses into homeless shelters.
This fear is only exacerbated by DHS’s erratic behavior in the past year. Residents are skeptical of DHS following last year’s overnight transformation of the Westway Motel (71-11 Astoria Blvd) into a full time homeless shelter with no prior warning.
Last year Peralta along with several other local politicians sent a joint letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services Gilbert Taylor expressing their outrage about the lack of notification.
Peralta recently co-sponsored a senate bill that requires DHS to notify local community boards and the City Planning Commission of a planned site. The bill passed.
“Plain and simple, neighbors should be allowed to know what’s occurring in their own backyards,” Peralta said.
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras who lives a few blocks away from the Clarion is also concerned, according to a spokesperson.
She will continue to call on DHS for full disclosure about this location and any other in the area being considered, according to a spokesperson.