QUEENS — The city's commitment not to remove 30 homeless men from a Maspeth hotel is a "testament" to its resolve to deal with the problem — in the face of community outcry, officials said.
Commissioner Steven Banks, who oversees the city's Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services, told reporters at City Hall on Tuesday that the owner of the Holiday Inn Express near Maurice Avenue in Maspeth wouldn't let the city continue with its original plan to convert the entire building into a shelter for adult families.
But, by renting 30 rooms to employed homeless men, it "moved forward with our plan to put homeless New Yorkers in Maspeth.”
Neighbors have been opposed to the proposal to convert the hotel into a shelter since it was first revealed in August.
Thousands protested outside the shelter and took their protest on the road with stops at Banks' home in Windsor Terrace and a hotel in Bellerose that's used as a shelter.
That hotel's owner, Harsh Patel, also owns the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth.
In addition to blocking the city from turning his Maspeth hotel into a full-time shelter, Patel had decided to stop renting rooms to the city at his Bellerose hotel after the protest two weeks ago, Banks said.
"There were protesters outside chanting that that particular location should be shut down and ultimately the hotel owner made a determination not to continue to rent those rooms," he said.
"That solved absolutely nothing because those individual families had to be housed elsewhere in the city."
More than 6,000 homeless residents are housed in hotel rooms around the city as a "stopgap" before they can be placed in more permanent housing, Banks said.
The city is spending $160 a night on each room it rents in Maspeth, according to officials. It rented 30 rooms Monday night and plans to rent more if they become available.