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City Ends Program to House Homeless Families in Staten Island Hotels

By Nicholas Rizzi | July 6, 2016 4:46pm
 The city ended its controversial program to house homeless families in Staten Island hotels, including the Ramada Inn where a man murdered his girlfriend and two children in February 2016.
The city ended its controversial program to house homeless families in Staten Island hotels, including the Ramada Inn where a man murdered his girlfriend and two children in February 2016.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

TRAVIS — A controversial program to house homeless families in Staten Island hotels has ended after the last residents were moved out last week, officials said.

Councilman Steven Matteo and Borough President James Oddo said the last homeless families moved out of hotels that were being used as temporary shelters.

"It was clear from the beginning — when I first learned about homeless students being shuffled in and out of our local schools without the proper services they needed and about the homeless families that were essentially stranded in these suburban communities — that it was not appropriate to use these hotels as temporary shelters," Matteo said.

"I am glad that the Travis community can put this matter behind them."

The city was using four hotels in the borough under the program run by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS). A spokeswoman for the agency said it was working on other solutions to get homeless Staten Islanders back in the borough.

"There are currently no hotels on Staten Island being used by the Department of Homeless Services to shelter homeless individuals or families," said Laura Gray, spokeswoman for the agency, in a statement.

"We are continuing to work to meet the needs of imminently homeless Staten Islanders and those who are currently housed in shelters in other boroughs and want to return to their home borough."

Last year, DHS began using hotels across the city as temporary shelters to deal with a spike in rates of homelessness, with 1,700 families placed in the Ramada Inn in Willowbrook and the Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Inn in Travis, Matteo said.

It cost $2 million to house the families in Staten Island, but Matteo and Oddo called on the city to end the program because of the stress it placed on homeless children that required services local schools didn't have.

"From the moment we first heard that homeless families were being housed in hotels in the community of Travis we protested to the administration," Oddo said in a statement.

"We are grateful that they kept their word and that these hotels are not now being used in this way."

In February, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would phase out the use of hotels after a man fatally stabbed his girlfriend and two of her daughters inside the Ramada Inn at 535 Ganon Ave.

“Stop using hotels, that is our goal,” de Blasio said at the time.

“But there will be moments when, because there’s a particular need, we may have to turn to hotels, but the goal is to use hotels less and less and eventually stop using hotels altogether.”