Elmhurst residents boo homeless at Pan Am shelter meeting

Department of Homeless Services moved families into former hotel without notifying community

79-00 Queens Boulevard
79-00 Queens Boulevard

Tempers flared over a newly opened homeless shelter at the former Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst, Queens flared at a meeting Monday, during which some protesters booed the facility’s elderly and homeless residents.

Queens Community Board 4 called the meeting with the shelter operator after the Department of Homeless Services began moving people into the Queens Boulevard property without notifying the community in June. Several hundred protesters not admitted to the at-capacity meeting protested outside 79-00 Queens Boulevard, booing and yelling at residents of the Pan Am shelter to “get a job” and “pay your rent,” DNAinfo reported.

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The number of families living at the shelter has tripled to 90 since it opened, according to a DHS figure cited by DNAinfo. Lisa Black, a DHS representative, told the attendees that the agency was acting to address a “crisis” situation in the shelter system and that it may use all 216 rooms in the building.

Critics said that the shelter raised issues regarding safety and overcrowding at nearby schools. One 74-year-old resident used her speaking time to urge neighbors to show compassion for the families before being booed, DNAinfo reported.  [DNAinfo]Tom DiChristopher