Oct. 5, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
A new homeless shelter will open in western Queens, this time in the Dutch Kills area.
The 200-resident shelter, which will be for women, will open at the Verve Hotel, located at 40th Avenue and 29th Street, according to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and several others who attended a meeting with the DHS and the Mayor’s office on Friday.
The City is in gear to take over the hotel within the next week.
This will be the second shelter the City is opening this year, and the second in Community Board 1’s district after the Westway at 71-11 Astoria Blvd. It will join a handful of others in the western Queens area that were opened with minimal community notification, including most recently the Landing Hotel Shelter in East Elmhurst.
A particular worry for Dutch Kills residents is that the Verve shelter will be one of many shelter conversions for this area, which is currently undergoing a hotel boom.
“If the administration succeeds in siting this shelter, we’ll work with everyone to make sure that both the women are cared for and the neighborhood is cared for,” Van Bramer said. “But going forward, with over 20 hotels just like this one having opened in the Dutch Kills area, we cannot have a domino effect where these hotels all become homeless shelters.”
“The residents of Dutch Kills have rightly been concerned that the massive number of hotels opening in their midst would be converted to other uses and this news confirms their fears,” State Sen. Michael Gianaris similarly said in a statement.
Friday’s attendees were also concerned about the shelter’s proximity to schools, Van Bramer said.
The Verve Hotel is steps from the Growing Up Green charter school, Newcomers High School and the Academy of American studies high school.
Regarding the shelter’s proximity to Growing Up Green, Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris said, “that’s a bit troublesome.”
“We want people to have a place to stay,” she added. “But is this really the right location?”
“I certainly can understand that some parents might be concerned to learn that a homeless shelter is opening across the street from their child’s elementary school,” Van Bramer said, adding that social services and facility security were major themes.
Employment help, money management and mental health services will be provided on site, among others.
Security at the shelter will include 24/7 staff stationed inside and outside, scanners at the shelter entrance, and a series of cameras, among others.
Ishanee Parikh, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s office, said, “we’re seeing more single adult women entering our shelter system and we want to ensure we can provide shelter and services – including employment services and clinical services – to these women as they rebuild their lives.”
According to the Mayor’s office, the notification process for this shelter began last week, although the specifics of this process were not provided.
Neither Van Bramer nor Koulouris were aware of other meetings that have been held so far regarding the shelter.
Lymaris Albors of shelter provider Acacia Network directed all inquiries to the DHS.
The DHS did not respond to questions or requests for comment on this story.
As of Monday, the Verve Hotel was still accepting reservations.