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Politicians and residents claim they were blindsided by the establishment of homeless shelter on Astoria Blvd


July 20, 2014 By Michael Florio

Local politicians are outraged that the Department of Homeless Services has established a permanent homeless shelter on Astoria Boulevard without notifying them.

The DHS has transformed the Westway Motor Inn, which previously provided emergency overnight stays, to a permanent shelter. The shelter, located at 71-11 Astoria Blvd, began catering to 121 families on July 8, after the DHS approved a proposal put forward by social service provider Woman in Need (WIN).

The inn had previously operated as an emergency shelter, where homeless people were only sent for one night if the city’s permanent shelters were full. The maximum number permitted in the emergency shelter were 36 families per night.

Local politicians claim that they were blindside by DHS’s sudden change. They say that they were not told about it until July 9.

Councilman Costa Constantinides, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Congressman Joseph Crowley and State Senator Jose Peralta wrote a joint letter (see below) to the Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services Gilbert Taylor expressing their outrage about the lack of notification about the shelter as well as potential problems such as the increased burden on schools and other city services.

Within the letter it states that while they appreciate that DHS is legally required to find all families’ shelter, they feel the surrounding community should have been told.

“The agency’s failure to provide any notification to the people currently living in the area who are impacted by its implementation is unacceptable,” the letter says.

The politicians said that they should have had an opportunity to receive feedback from the community, and provide input.

However, the DHS said in a statement that it began notifying the community by phone during the first week of July.

The elected officials expressed concern that the neighboring schools and hospitals might be overburdened by the addition of 121 families.

“Recent population growth in our communities has stretched the capacity of the schools and hospitals in our area,” the joint letter reads. “We anticipate that the addition of more than 100 homeless families will have a significant effect on local social services that are already overburdened.”

The DHS, meanwhile, reports that the number of homeless people throughout the city has reached all time highs. The city reported that were 54,439 homeless people last week. Almost 75 percent of those individuals are families with children, and 45 percent are children under the age of 18.

“It is regrettable that in the midst of an increase in the number homeless families entering shelters, our partners in government choose to distort the facts and plan protests in front of men, women, and children with nowhere else to turn,” the DHS said in a statement. “We hope others find it in themselves to embrace these families with children as we help them to rebuild their lives.”

The DHS’ announcement comes one month after it announced plans to provide a shelter for more than 200 homeless families at the Pan American Hotel, located at 7900 Queens Blvd. Hundreds of protestors came out against it.

The United Community Civic Association is holding a town hall meeting to discuss the Westway Motor Inn homeless shelter on Wednesday, July 23, at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image at 36-01 35th Ave.

Westway Letter by sunnysidepost

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I am veteran and a civil service worker that gets 60k a year. I’m also a full time student for my masters degree in Colombia university . I’m married with 2 kids for 15 years , however I found my self getting evicted by my greedy landlord to turn my apt that I lived for 5 years into a office. Now I am homeless and reside in the shelter above. I don’t use drugs nor alcohol. I was born in Brooklyn and never wanted nor cared about astroia . I know very well the racist upper class Greeks that live in that area. I can’t understand how a immigrant community would hate other Americans that are in hard times. In the shelter my wife and I help people with food, laundry clothing for children because dhs don’t supply the essential to survive. I am also helping people to get information for GED jon fairs and even cheap labor to get out from the shelter. The community is a frace in my eyes… When I come out of this I will boycott Astoria and all my friends to adviod it if possible.


Sure let’s boot out all the needy people and displaced families from the Westway.
Then it can go back to being the good old fashioned drug and hooker hotel it used to be.


It’s not the illegals that are homeless, idiot! It’s the lazy USA born trash that feel it’s the taxpayers responsibility to house them.!!!


Keep voting Democratic and soon the entire city will be one huge homeless shelter.

Deporting illegal aliens would go a long way to solving the vexing problem of homelessness.


Actually, we should be protesting outside the real estate offices and builders. Our city will fall because of the evil of greed. Everyone should indeed make a profit. But as Tolstoy asked “How much land ($$$$) does a man need? I have witnessed first hand how realtors drive the prices by snatching the houses out of working people’s hands by offering sellers the same greedy and sleazy approach to life…let’s see what we can get…oh why would you sell your home for 550,00 to your life-long neighbor’s child…I can get you 750,000. You have to worry about your family. The guy next door is not your problem.

I like my last idea…the developers and greedy realtors are a big part of the housing problem..take the money and run is the code they live by. All we hear is how hard they have it. Yes, I see the that by the cars they drive, the vacations they and their children go on several times a year and the fine big houses they live in at tony addresses.

Not one of them claim any responsibility for the less fortunate and perpetuate some myth and blah blah blah about how they themselves came with nothing. Well politicians should st down and explain to them 2014 is a completely different world than when they crawled over. They did not pay 70% of their salary to rent. Homes did not cost 20x their salary …through 1998 it was a mere 5x.
Explain to these ignorant industry monger that they should worry and that their children and grandchildren will eventually suffer because they will soon be surrounded by transient and house poor people…and Malba, Manhasset, Roslyn, Dix Hills, Dubrovnik, Abruzzi and Dublin will not be the little islands of luxury they think they are going to escape to.

Talk about threats to national security…a stable community of homeowners which proffers secure family life and parents able to be on the home front is the backbone of societies. almost every quarter, from Boston to Washington is out of sight for a hardworking making under $120,000.


I find this ” not in our backyard” attitude sickening . We are tkinh about homeless families. Where exactly would these outraged politicians like them to go? Anywhere else right? This is shameful.


We need to help the vulnerable…sticking people in a hotel will provide zero opportunity to settle in a community. Talk about stigmatizing children. You are simply dumping several hundred people into what will be a very hostile environment. No proper cooking facilities. I have ridden by and see people milling about, ladies sitting on Ditmars and kids playing along the Grand Central service road. The Director needs his head examined. How did he get his position?

How about rehabbing some of the abandoned house, apartments and warehouses if you are serious about helping families. It would be cheaper and if you engaged the families with local colleges, habitat etc you would increase personal investment and the unfortunate people’s dignity. Time too short- even better get 121 developers to donate an apartment.


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