The Department of Homeless Services has vowed to give communities and elected officials one week’s notice before opening new homeless shelters. The announcement comes in the wake of a series of confrontations over shelters in Queens and harsh criticism from New York City comptroller Scott Stringer.
Shelter residents and long-time community members clashed after the DHS began moving families into the Pan American Hotel on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst in June without advanced notice. Another unannounced shelter opening at the Westway Motel on Astoria Boulevard sparked opposition one month later.
“Time and time again, I have seen communities that were traditionally welcoming of shelter facilities and supportive housing react negatively to a rushed DHS placement due to a failure to consider either legitimate potential neighborhood impacts or the health of the families the residences are intended to support,” Stringer said in a letter to DHS cited by the Queens TimesLedger.
After receiving the letter, DHS commissioner Gilbert Taylor said the department would give communities seven days’ notice, according to the paper.
However, State Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, who represents Astoria, said that time frame is inadequate.
“Seven days’ notice to open up any kind of shelter that would affect the community is woefully inadequate, in my opinion,” Simotas told the paper. [TimesLedger] — Tom DiChristopher