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Neighbors Complain, But City Says Maspeth, Queens Needs Homeless Shelter

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Many neighbors continued to complain Friday about a plan to turn a Queens hotel into a homeless shelter.

With nearly 60,000 people currently in homeless shelters across the city, officials said they must turn to hotels, like the Holiday Inn located in Maspeth off the Long Island Expressway, as an alternative. They want to use the 110-room facility on 55th Road as an adult-only shelter.

As CBS2's Sonia Rincon reported, the plan was has not gone over well with neighbors in Maspeth.

"I think it's an absolutely horrible idea," said Ali Maiorino. "There's no public transportation over here. I think it would bring property values down. I don't know what they would do with themselves during the day."

"I understand that we need services for homeless people and people who fell on hard times. We can help them find another location," said Michael LoCascio, a community board member. "This just isn't a good location."

LoCascio and other community board members pointed to the area's residential section, schools and parks -- just blocks away -- and problems at a shelter in nearby Elmhurst.

"There are sex offenders there. There are criminals there. There's a lot of problems outside there," LoCascio said.

Neighbors also told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck on Thursday that they were no fans of the shelter plan.

"I think it's complicated, I think enough isn't done for a lot of people who need stuff done and I think there's a lot of people who just are too lazy to go out and get a job and they depend on the system to support them," one resident said. "I don't think it's appropriate."

But the city said the area covered by Community Board 5 has no homeless shelter, and needs one. The city said 250 people who now live in shelters listed their last address in the area.

Board members such as Walter Sanchez have been told the city would pay $60 per room per night. He said the hotel has no trouble filling up the rooms with paying customers.

"And they're getting $170-$180 a night, so it just seems a little bit odd – it's three and a half years old – that they would provide it to a homeless shelter and get $60 a night, Sanchez said.

CBS2 tried to speak with management at the Holiday Inn Express, but no one was available to discuss the issue.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-30th) said the hotel is not a home for the homeless.

"It doesn't make sense to put people in hotels without any kitchens; without any resources that families really need and deserve," Crowley said.

"We don't want to be barking at the moon like every other community and say, 'Hey, not in our backyard.' So the city gave us 30 days. They said, 'If you find other locations for possible homeless shelters, then we wouldn't do it here,'" Sanchez added. "So we're working on that."

The Mayor's office said nothing is finalized yet, and the city will consider any alternate locations the Community Board comes up with. But if a shelter does open in the Holiday Inn Express, it will not be for at least 60 days.

If the hotel were to be converted into a shelter, no part of it would go on being used as a hotel.


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