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Hundreds Rally Against Proposed Maspeth Shelter as City Mulls Alternatives

By Katie Honan | August 12, 2016 1:31pm
 The city is eyeing a Holiday Inn on 55th Road, near Maurice Avenue, as a shelter for adult families. 
The city is eyeing a Holiday Inn on 55th Road, near Maurice Avenue, as a shelter for adult families. 
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

MASPETH — Residents rallied Thursday against a proposed plan to turn a hotel into a shelter for adult families on Maurice Avenue, but the city says they are still open to alternatives for the site. 

Hundreds packed the auditorium of Martin Luther High School — and hundreds more waited outside — to blast a plan to turn a Holiday Inn on 55th Road, near Maurice Avenue, into a shelter for adult families by Oct. 1, according to reports.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, in an open letter to the mayor, called the plan "shortsighted, fiscally irresponsible and completely inadequate."

"Hotel rooms are by no means suitable for anyone who has fallen on hard times. It puts occupants in an unstable environment, and is not the right answer when addressing our city’s homelessness crisis," she wrote.

In addition to the town hall, dozens of people walked to the Holiday Inn for their own protest outside, repeatedly shouting "no shelter," the Queens Ledger reported.

Thursday's town hall was organized by COMET, Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, a civic group that also protested the opening of the Pan Am shelter in Elmhurst in 2014. 

David Neustadt, a spokesman for HRA, said in a statement that the city is legally obligated to shelter anyone — and that requires a "citywide response." "We have met with community leaders and participated in an open community forum to continue to build a constructive dialogue around this issue," he said.

A spokeswoman for City Hall, Aja Worthy-Davis, said there hasn't been a final decision made about the shelter, and Mayor Bill de Blasio "has committed to housing homeless New Yorkers and diminishing reliance on hotels and cluster spaces."

"Though no shelters currently exist in this community, there are approximately 250 people in shelter who listed their most recent address as being in Community District 5, representing individuals likely separated from their families and social networks," she said.