Queens politico sues de Blasio administration over controversial hotel-to-shelter conversion

Mayor wants to turn a Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth into 115-bed homeless facility

Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road in Queens and Elizabeth Crowley
Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road in Queens and Elizabeth Crowley

As the city grapples with record levels of homelessness, one Queens council member is going to great lengths to stop the de Blasio administration’s plans to convert a budget hotel in Maspeth into a homeless shelter.

Elizabeth Crowley is suing the de Blasio administration over plans to convert a Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road into a 115-bed homeless shelter for adult families, Politico reported. The proposal has been met with widespread condemnation from local officials and furious community members.

Crowley, a Democrat who filed the suit in Queens Supreme Court on Wednesday, says the legal maneuver isn’t about the shelter itself. Her lawsuit argues that these types of hotels are illegal because they effectively deny homeless families their legal right to access cooking facilities.

The council member also complained that de Blasio’s administration hasn’t reduced the number of hotels being used as shelters as he had pledged in February.

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“The mayor himself, as well as Department of Homeless Services commissioner Steven Banks, has said converting hotels into homeless shelters is an unacceptable solution to the city’s homelessness crisis,” Crowley said. “Yet time and time again, we hear of the city moving more people into hotels and motels.”

But Catherine Trapani, executive director for Homeless Services United, told Politico the lawsuit is just part of a NIMBY campaign to stop the shelter from moving forward.

“If the issue with this site is really about kitchens then let’s have a meaningful dialogue about how we can make sure the folks that will live there have access to nutritious food,” she said.

The city has increasingly relied on hotels and motels to house the homeless as it moves away from cluster housing. The cost of housing the homeless in hotels checked in at an estimated $50 million in the past year. [Politico]Miriam Hall