DHS and Mayor de Blasio enriching landlords and hotel operators - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the March 2016 Juniper Berry Magazine

DHS and Mayor de Blasio enriching landlords and hotel operators

Since taking office more than two years ago, Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) have converted at least nine hotels into homeless shelters,most of them in Queens and Brooklyn. There may be more as these conversions are usually made in a stealthy manner and some communitiesare not aware of the change over until months later as the residents of Jamaica Hills have recently experienced. Although a few of these conversions were legal, the majority were convertedillegally with no notification to the community or elected officials until the 11th hour when it was already a done deal.

As reported multiple times, under NYC Administrative Code 21-124b, all family homeless shelters are required to have kitchens in each unit. The former Pan Am hotel, which is now called the Boulevard Family Center, lacks this requirement

By unilaterally and recklessly converting every hotel that is available into homeless shelters, the Mayor is depleting precious accommodations for tourists and visitors to New York City. Last year, he spent $100,000 to $200,000 of taxpayer funds to hire Laura Santucci to bring the 2016 Democratic presidential convention to New York City. As reported by the New York Post,our clueless Mayorpulled out all the stops to try to land the nominating convention from dangling the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn as a hip venue to naming a high-powered host committee that pledged to raise millions to cover the bill.Just for the nine hotels listed:

Hotels Converted

to Shelters ........................... Rooms

Pan Am................................... 216

Westway..................................121

Clarion.....................................172

Capri......................................... 95

Verve......................................... 87

Quality Inn (Retreat Inn),

Jamaica.................................... 70

Sleep Inn, Sunset Park............. 97

Par Central Motor Inn,

Jamaica.................................... 33

Econo Lodge,

South Ozone Park.................... 38

nearly 1000 rooms were taken off the market.Where and how is de Blasio going to accommodate the delegates? In New Jersey? Luckily, the proposal was shot down.

By permitting hotels to easily and illegally convert into homeless shelters, de Blasio is interfering with the natural laws of supply and demand at the expense of consumers. Since there are less accommodations available, hotel operators will ultimately increase their rates. This is disconcerting as Mayor de Blasio is not only making the landlords of homeless shelters extremely rich, he is making these hotel owners rich. If the cost of hotel accommodations continues to rise, how can anyone afford or want to host events in New York City?

On January 6, 2016, Samaritan Village re-submitted a revised and shortened Pan Am contract to the Comptroller's office under a new entity called Samaritan Daytop Village. Since the last rejection back in September, no kitchens have been installed in the Pan Am shelter and there are still outstanding DOB, HPD and FDNY violations which have not been rectified.

As awatchdogof the taxpayers money, Comptroller ScottStringer was in a unique position to set things right. As tax dollars should not be used to bail out banks that took excessive risk for their own personal gain, taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidize the hotel industry either. Unfortunately, the Comptroller decided not to reject the Pan Am contract forthe fourthand final time. In February, he approved payment through 2017 on the condition that Samaritan Village put forth a plan to correct the violations. It will no doubt take millions of dollars to convert the old hotel into a legally operating Tier II shelter. What will the magical plan be and who will foot the bill for it? We'll be monitoring this process and report back to the community on it. After all, someone has to.

Anna Orjuela is a member of Elmhurst United.

March 2016 Juniper Berry Magazine

March 2016 Table of Contents