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Homeless shelter sparks heated debate at Police Precinct meeting


Oct. 31, 2014 By Michael Florio

The Westway Motor Inn, which was converted into a full-time homeless shelter in July, was at the center of some heated discussion at this month’s 114th Police Precinct meeting on Tuesday.

Several residents claimed that there had been an uptick in crime near the 71-11 Astoria Blvd. shelter and that the quality of life for nearby residents is on the decline.

However, Deputy Inspector Kevin Maloney, the commanding officer of the 114th, refuted these claims.

“We don’t see a ton of crime happening over there,” Maloney said. “We don’t see an increase in robberies, car break-ins, or drug use there.”

However, one woman claimed that her friend’s daughter was attacked near the Westway Motor Inn. The alleged victim did not report it to the police.

Maloney said that he was aware that the community was concerned when it first learned that the Westway Motor Inn had been turned into a full-time shelter. Nevertheless, he said, there are no more complaints in that part of the precinct than elsewhere.

Maloney said that if crime is taking place and nobody is reporting it then it is not helping residents or the police.

Rose Marie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association, was in attendance and stated that the problem could be that people are afraid to report what is going on.

“People are afraid,” she said. “You got a lot of teenagers and young kids there now.”

Maloney said that if residents are afraid to call the police then they can call the precinct’s community affairs department and report it anonymously.

One long-time Astoria resident, George Pefanis, claimed that the shelter has downgraded his quality of life.

Pefanis, who lives in Ditmars, said that a man from the shelter approached him aggressively one time shouting “What’s good?” and asked him for money and cigarettes. He said that he called the police about the incident but since it wasn’t a crime, no report was made.

He claimed that he had witnessed residents of the shelter urinating in public. He also claimed that the residents had intimidated his pregnant wife as well as his daughter.

“Forget about crime, what about the quality of life?” he asked. “I love this neighborhood and I don’t want to feel like I am living in a ghetto.”

Pefanis said the police are not seeing what is going on near the shelter—focusing too much on statistics.

Maloney responded by saying any quality of life issue, such as public urination, should be reported.

“Every time you call 911, I will get a report,” Maloney said. “It is not all about stats. I look at every single 911 and 311 call that is generated around that area.”

“If there is a location that has a lot of reports we will address it,” Maloney added. “If we see several calls at one location we will send a conditions team over and it’ll turn into an enforcement action.”

Poveromo hosted a town hall meeting about the shelter in July, which drew hundreds of residents who opposed to it. She said that a second town hall meeting will be hosted “shortly.”

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JoAnne Moore

Anyone can quickly lose everything they’ve worked for due to disasters & unforeseen circumstances; so help those in need and comfort them, not just criticize homelessness.


Why is it that nothing has been done since the July rally? Who should be stepping up because apparently something needs to be changed

Anonymous visitor

The next town meeting is on Dec 4th at 6:00 at the museum of the moving image. Re: the westway. Was just told we need 1000 or more people!


“Call the community affairs department.” Good luck getting through to anyone at the precinct. Tried for days to talk about a problem we were having in our co-op compels and the only way I got a response was to tweet them how pathetic they were. The head of community affairs private messaged me and got an officer in touch that afternoon. Before that they didn’t have an answering machine on in the community affairs office and they never answered the phone. Just a joke!

Anonymous visitor

The statistics are not accurate because people are afraid to report the crime or don’t want to go to the precinct because they feel intimidated by what works at the precinct and I’m not talking about the cops. We were victims of burglary and the cops were more than helpful and showed a lot of empathy but the “citizens ” that work at the precinct were nothing more than disrespectful and one was even acted like a bully.

Anonymous visitor

A guy stung out of drugs went up to my friends boyfriend and tried to rip him off for money and his phone. instead my friends boyfriend kicked his ass. since this shelter has been here people are scared to be around them. they are loud and obnoxious and i thought they were supposed to have a curfew what the hell happened to that? the neighborhood is going to shit. and it is sad casue it was never like this ever.


Don’t blame the police. It’s our mayor who is soft on crime. Sadly we’ll have at least 3 more years of this.

Anonymous visitor

Also had my car and my girlfriends car broken into in the past 3 months. This is getting out of hand. Not only is it making the neighborhood look bad but all homeowners are taking a massive loss on their property. Meanwhile the owner of the Westway is raking in money. This is not right.


Funny thing this blog reported a spike in crime in the same area and around it in Astoria. We try to keep the neighborhood safe and people move here because the quality of life and the city rewards us with a shelter.?

Anonymous visitor

The precinct definitely needs to focus on many things in the astoria area, the neighborhood has changed a lot in the past 10 yrs with crimes, homeless people,etc. My garage and car were broken into recently, as well as my sister in laws was broken into while she was home.


This is a lie! My car was just broken into on Tuesday night on 71st street. I reported it and the police who came said there HAS been a huge rise in crime near the motel since the shelter arrived. I am disgusted by the 114 lying to our community!


I forgot that cars being broken into began to happen in 2014. Oh wait it’s always been like this. In 2009, 2011, 2013 there were cars found on cinder blocks.


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