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Pan Am Shelter's Application Denied for Second Time by Comptroller

By Katie Honan | July 9, 2015 5:35pm
 Nearly a dozen mothers living inside the shelter at the former Pan Am Hotel described terrible conditions inside.
Nearly a dozen mothers living inside the shelter at the former Pan Am Hotel described terrible conditions inside.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ELMHURST — Citing safety concerns, the city's comptroller has denied a second request for a permanent contract with the operators of a controversial shelter inside the former Pan Am Hotel.

Comptroller Scott Stringer, who denied the first application for a city contract in May, said the Department of Homeless Services hadn't provided "sufficient documentation" to show it had improved outstanding violations.

“The Department of Homeless Services has not yet provided sufficient documentation to show that the Pan American Hotel facility is safe, and that all outstanding violations and complaints have been corrected," he wrote in a statement. "As a result I have sent the contract back to allow the agency additional time to address the outstanding issues we identified.”

DHS officials insisted the agency has provided Stringer's office with all of the documentation he requested, including the results of site inspections and an action plan to fix problems.

“We have satisfied all substantive questions raised by the Comptroller’s Office, and are disappointed that this decision will essentially deny payment to a shelter serving 197 vulnerable families, including 321 children," a spokeswoman with the agency said.

"The City’s Department of Investigation specifically recommended contracting providers in order to increase accountability, to ensure appropriate resources for critical social services, and to continue building well-maintained and violation-free facilities."

Pan Am's operator, Samaritan Village, applied for a $42.47 million permanent contract to operate the shelter, which it opened on an emergency contract basis in June 2014.

It opened without prior notice to the community, who protested what they called the warehousing of homeless residents.

The facility has been the subject of numerous complaints in the year since it's opened, including issues such as bedbugs, vermin, a single-room fire and other safety violations inside the 216-room building.

Nearly a dozen residents spoke to DNAinfo New York about conditions inside in May. The rooms lack kitchens, which are required by law.

DHS officials said they plan to continue to appeal the comptroller's decision.