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'Grossest Sex Hotel' to Become Emergency Shelter For Homeless, City Says

By Noah Hurowitz | August 30, 2016 4:53pm
 The city is looking to team up with the group Breaking Ground to open an emergency homeless shelter in the 24th Street building that once housed La Semana hotel.
The city is looking to team up with the group Breaking Ground to open an emergency homeless shelter in the 24th Street building that once housed La Semana hotel.
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DNAinfo/Noah Hurowitz

FLATIRON — The city is looking to open a new emergency shelter for homeless adults in a former hotel that was once labeled New York’s “grossest sex hotel,” according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services.

Breaking Ground, a group that provides housing for low-income New Yorkers and the homeless, is working with DHS to open a “stabilization bed facility” at 25 W. 24th St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues, where the group will put up street-homeless individuals as they transition to shelters and other housing options, according to DHS spokeswoman Lauren Gray.

The site was formerly La Semana hotel, which stopped operating earlier this year, according to a security guard at the site.

“Breaking Ground will provide temporary, critical resources here to bring homeless New Yorkers off of the street and offer a bridge to services and shelter,” Gray said in an email.

The group will present its plans at a Community Board 5 Budget, Education, and City Services Committee meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. in the board's office at 450 Seventh Ave., suite 2109.

Breaking Ground will operate the facility within the former La Semana Hotel, a budget hotel that was described in a 2012 Huffington Post article as the city’s “grossest sex hotel.” 

An employee of the hotel declined to comment on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear when the new facility might open, but Gray said it’s opening in part to accommodate the needs of homeless people on the street in winter.

News of the plans were an unwelcome surprise to some residents of the area, who say the neighborhood is already grappling with a high number of homeless men who hang out at the nearby BRC shelter on West 25th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

Beth Galton, a photographer who lives on 26th Street and runs a studio on 27th Street, said a new shelter in the neighborhood would exacerbate the issue.

“When I walk to work it gets very intense, with people hanging out, begging for money, hustling each other,” she said. “It’s become much more difficult to live here, and so many people have fallen through the cracks. But you also have to think about quality of life, and this particular neighborhood is just overwhelmed.”

Gray said the city and Breaking Ground intend to work with neighbors in order to allay concerns about the new facility.

"More than ever before, this administration is committed to providing notice to engage communities on these issues and address community concerns,” she said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans in February to phase out the practice of housing homeless in hotels after a man murdered his girlfriend and two of her daughters in a Staten Island hotel where the woman, Rebecca Cutler, and her girls had been staying.

But since de Blasio's announcement, the city has made moves to use a number of hotel sites across the city for homeless housing:

City Renting Rooms for Homeless Families at Woodside Hotel

Hundreds Rally Against Proposed Maspeth Shelter as City Mulls Alternatives

► 'Bushwick Inspired' Boutique Hotel Now Being Used as Homeless Shelter

Community Board 5 Budget, Education, and City Services Committee on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the CB 5 office at 450 7th Avenue, suite 2109.