Aug. 24, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Homeless families began moving into a new shelter at the former Clarion Hotel today.
The City’s newest shelter, which is located across from LaGuardia Airport at 94th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, serves families with children and has 169 units, according to the Department of Homeless Services.
The opening marks an about-face for the DHS, which told the Jackson Heights Post in June that the location was not in the pipeline for a shelter.
CAMBA, a Brooklyn-based provider, will operate the shelter.
The agency gave a quiet prelude to the Clarion shelter, notifying local elected officials and hosting a community meeting about a week in advance. DHS officials said the agency followed the notification process for emergency shelters, which have temporary contracts and an expedited procurement process.
Both the nearby Westway shelter and Elmhurst’s Pan Am shelters were opened through emergency contracts; both inspired outrage due to the lack of community notification involved in the process.
Since then, the DHS amended emergency shelter procurement to include one week of advance community notification. However, for some, the new facility merely represents old systemic issues.
“Here we go again,” said State Sen. Jose Peralta, calling emergency procedures “a cover for just bringing a homeless shelter into the community without any community input.”
“My constituents are very understanding of the necessity of the City’s obligation to house the homeless,” Peralta continued. “But, the fact that the City seeks input after the fact is nothing but a Bloomberg or Giuliani tactic of shoving a homeless shelter down a community’ s throat.”
A spokesperson for Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said that she wants the City to channel more resources, especially for transportation, into the area as a result of this new shelter.
“The community is willing to absorb these families but not without some added support,” the spokesperson said.
According to the DHS, Queens hosts 9 percent of shelters City-wide.
“Eviction continues to be the main cause of homelessness in New York City, and we’re now seeing the summer uptick of homeless families entering our shelter system,” a DHS spokesperson said. “[The new shelter will] ensure we have the capacity to house those in need.”
Honestly, where is your evidence that the shelter in Elmhurst is filled with battered women and disabled fathers. They don’t seem battered or disabled when they are walking down Ditmars straight to 31st street to hang out. They don’t seem battered or disabled when they are walking down Ditmars on their iPhones and North Face jackets. Please. It’s nice to want to help someone but how about helping someone who is willing to help themselves first.
Though I know it’s frustrating to have a shelter appear without notice, the issue is that it’s here. Now how do we deal with it? Do we continue to get frustrated? Or can we do what we can to find out what kind of people are in there to help them? The shelter in Elmhurst are filled with battered women and disabled fathers who choose to stick with their families but has low income due to their situation.
If they do something to harm others, then it’s definitely not tolerable. But in the meantime, I’d rather spend my energy helping rather than being frustrated.
Reality check please. Battered women and disabled fathers makes up a very small percentage of people in the homeless shelters. Do some research. And honestly, didn’t our lovely mayor say that homeless people have the right to sleep on the streets? Just let them do that then. It’s mayor approved so we all know that that is good, right?
I was wondering, does 94th Street and Ditmars Boulevard have any shopping facilities near by or will they take the bus to Astoria/Ditmars during the day and hang out there?
They will shop where you shop Heather. You will have to see them.
I do not mind the people from the homeless shelter. I actually live close to Westway and feel bad for the families that I see having to walk a long way in order to find a place to shop especially with young children and carrying groceries.
There was a man living in the westway shelter who was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a 7 year old girl in Texas. He served ten years in prison, was living in a shelter in the Bronx beforw being moved to westway. He has since been removed but the vetting process for shelters should be a little more prudent.
There are children living at Westway and that is why he was removed. If Westway did not allow children (not sure how close the school is) he would have the right to stay there. I had to pass by an adult male shelter in Manhattan to get to work last year. Most of the men would hang out outside, smoke and appear drunk/high during the day. If a shelter opened up by me I would hope it was a family shelter over a male adult one. I also heard that the big Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church on Hazen/Ditmars was sold and will become a Muslim place of worship. If they open up programs for children on weekends, after school days and summer, (which they frequently do) then it is a dood fight to keep Westway for families because the mosque is very close to the shelter.
Yes, he was removed because there are children leaving there. But it makes you wonder how he was housed there in the first place. And how many others may have slipped through the cracks.
These older hotels can not keep up with renovations so they end up converting them to homeless shelters. With so many reports about the increasing number of homeless in NYC (many who come from other states) it does not surprise me that they are opening up another shelter. I doubt that there is much the community can do (about closing it down) but work with the shelter/city and express any problems and concerns that might arise. At least the Westway Motel is for families, this new one may open to house the mens one they closed because they were too close to a school and housed men that had committed crimes to young children.
We are blue collar in my family. No investment made by mommy and daddy. Just because we grew up in what is now an expensive place to live doesn’t mean we are spoiled.
Ewe can’t have this. Wanna know why? These homeless people are treating my Mommy and Daddy’s investment in my spoiled ass living here is Gaystoria.
I can actually agree with this. There used to be a homeless man who sat in front of the church where I used to go to school. Never bothered anyone and he was there for a few weeks. Then he disappeared and a no tresspassing sign was placed in his spot. It’s dishearting to see.
The absolute worst people in this entire homeless shelter debate is that Chinese church that protests Westway so vehemently. I mean, they’re a church for goodness sake. How about donating food or clothes to the shelter?
When they started chanting “get a job, get a job at one of the protest, I was like “Ok, forget it. The shelter can stay. The Chinese church can move”.
The news footage of the people protesting so angrily was not at Westway it was from the Pan-American Hotel
Ok thank you
It is what it is… Deal with it.
Helping people is great when those people have a desire to also help themselves.
Are you saying these people are trying to help themselves, are you saying these people are not trying to help themselves or are you stating some general fact?
By the way, many time mentally ill people do not have the capacity to help themselves.
mentally ill people are the only people who should recieve life long assistance to ensure their safety as well as the safety of others. If ou find yourself in a situation where you need to utilize a shelter to keep a roof over your head then you should also seek a way to gain some self sufficiency. You should not become a life long ward of the state of you are of sound mind and body.
So which category are the people in westway? I have no idea I’m assuming you don’t either
Correct. I have no idea either. Nor do I mean to blanket people who truly need help with those who are mentally ill and have no other place to go. It is my hope however that the people who are being housed in westway aren’t life long wards of the state.
Helping people is the most dangerous thing you can do.
Not only do we get to suffer with the potential dangers these shelters impose, we get to pay for it too.
“Here we go again” is right. The same thing happened with Westway and it’s funny how everyone says that it shouldn’t have happened but nothing changes anyway. Why is it that the people who do the right thing, pay their taxes, work hard, try to earn a decent living are the ones that have to suffer? Those who say that the homeless need to be put somewhere, they should. But why here? Why not in areas where it wouldn’t affect the community to the degree that it affects this community? Why so much energy and effort to help the homeless and those who do the right thing every single day for years get no help at all?
And by telling the community one week before they plan to go ahead is not productive. At that point, the deal is already done and there is nothing that can be done to change it. Let’s see when the six month emergency phase is up, what excuse they will come up with to make it a permanent one?