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Queens Leads City in Number of Hotels Housing the Homeless, Data Shows

By Katie Honan | March 1, 2017 3:07pm
 A woman yells up at Commissioner Steve Banks at a meeting for a proposed homeless shelter in Maspeth, Queens on Aug. 31.
A woman yells up at Commissioner Steve Banks at a meeting for a proposed homeless shelter in Maspeth, Queens on Aug. 31.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

QUEENS — The borough leads the city in the number of hotels being used to house homeless residents, but it still has fewer total shelters than The Bronx, Brooklyn or Manhattan, city data shows.

The information was released as Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to build 90 new shelters across the city while moving away from hotel-based shelters, which often lack kitchens and other necessary facilities for homeless families. 

There are more than 110 hotels in Queens, and many rooms are rented out for the homeless during slow tourist times, according to Rob Mackay, director of public relations, marketing and tourism at the Queens Economic Development Corporation.

Guaranteed occupancy and offers of nearly $200 a night per room from the city's Department of Homeless Services "becomes very attractive to some of these hotels," he explained.

"Some of these guys eventually give in and say, 'We'll take it,'" he said. "It's guaranteed money and it gets you through."

However, the city's use of hotels to house the homeless has sparked protests throughout the city, particularly in Queens — which led the city with 40 hotels used for homeless housing through November 2016, according to data.

Plans to convert a Holiday Inn near the Long Island Expressway in Maspeth were tabled last fall amid outrage from neighbors, although the city did end up renting individual rooms at the hotel. 

And hundreds of people protested after the Pan Am Hotel on Queens Boulevard was converted to a shelter in 2014.

Despite the high number of hotels used for the homeless, the borough has just 26 permanent shelters — far fewer than Brooklyn's 93 shelters, The Bronx's 87 shelters and Manhattan's 80 shelters.

Queens also doesn't have any cluster sites, while the Bronx has a staggering 215, according to data. 

The information released by the city's Department of Homeless Services shows the number of shelters by zip code, but it did not include specific addresses.