EAST ELMHURST — The city said rumors of a homeless shelter opening in a soon-to-close Marriott Hotel near LaGuardia Airport are "unequivocally false" but skeptical neighbors protested there Thursday.
The Courtyard by Marriott LaGuardia Hotel at 90-10 Grand Central Parkway is set to close in October due to economic issues, according to documents filed with the state.
The Department of Homeless Services said it's never had plans to turn the hotel into a shelter — despite a news conference Thursday from nearby residents and City Council candidate Hiram Monserrate speaking out against it.
“These rumors are as unequivocally false today as they were in October — and we’re not sure where they began," DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn said.
"DHS has never had a presence in this site, period — nor have we discussed a shelter at this location.”
The city's homeless shelter population is currently at more than 58,000, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to open more shelters across the city to meet the need.
The most recent rally was organized by the East Elmhurst Corona Alliance and Monserrate, who is running for his former seat in the City Council currently held by Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. The disgraced former politician did time in prison for fraud and was also arrested for assault after attacking his girlfriend. He began his return to politics last year with a run for district leader.
Speculation about the shelter began in October, prompting Rep. Joe Crowley, Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya to put out a joint statement against a possible shelter at the hotel.