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City Renting Rooms for Homeless Families at Woodside Hotel

By Jeanmarie Evelly | August 26, 2016 5:03pm | Updated on August 29, 2016 8:23am
 The city is renting rooms at the Quality Inn on Queens Boulevard in Woodside to house homeless families with children.
The city is renting rooms at the Quality Inn on Queens Boulevard in Woodside to house homeless families with children.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

WOODSIDE — The city is renting rooms at a Queens Boulevard hotel to house homeless families, according to the Department of Homeless Services — though the agency says there are no plans to make the site a permanent shelter.

DHS is using the rooms at the Quality Inn between 53rd and 54th streets in Woodside to provide shelter for homeless families with children "who would otherwise be on the street," spokeswoman Lauren Gray said in a statement.

"Each day, we are tasked with determining how to meet the City’s legal obligation to house thousands of homeless New Yorkers," she said. "We thank the communities and businesses standing with their neighbors as they navigate the most difficult situations of their lives."

DHS will provide 24-hour security and social services for the families during their time at the hotel, she said.

The agency did not respond to queries about how many families are being housed at the Quality Inn, or how long it will be used for. The hotel did not immediately return a call for comment.

The Sunnyside Post first reported the news.

There has been pushback in other city neighborhoods where shelters have sprung up in hotels, including residents in Maspeth who protested earlier this month against a proposal to turn a Holiday Inn on 55th Road into an adult shelter.

A man was also arrested after stabbing his girlfriend and her 4-month-old and 1-year-old daughters to death in February in a Staten Island Ramada Inn that was being used to house homeless families.

Following the attack, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he wants to phase out the city's use of hotels as homeless housing, saying that his goal is to "eventually stop using hotels all together."

But the number of homeless being housed in such lodgings has swelled in the last few months, from an average of 2,656 people in February up to 3,990 in July, according to a report earlier this week in the New York Post.

Mayoral spokeswoman Aja Worthy-Davis said the administration "remains committed" to eliminating the use of hotels.

"Though some proposals have met significant push-back, this administration remains committed to opening new shelters citywide so we can phase out use of commercial hotels and cluster apartment shelters while additional permanent housing becomes available," she said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Woodside, said the city did not notify the lawmaker about using the hotel.

"While I will never protest the women and children seeking shelter at the Quality Inn, I am extremely upset that the administration converted this hotel into a temporary shelter without notifying anyone in the community," Van Bramer said in a statement.

"In situations like this, the best policy is transparency — not trying to sneak changes past local communities."