Assemblywoman Marge Markey confirmed last week that she spoke to Comptroller Scott Stringer stopping the city from using a “homeless emergency declaration” to fast-track the conversion of the Holiday Inn Express into a shelter.
“They must go through a review process,” she said. “And since the comptroller is on our side, the city should pay attention.”
A spokesperson for the comptroller said the office spoke with Markey last week. “Siting a shelter without consulting the community does a disservice to clients and local residents,” the spokesperson said.
Stringer confirmed he is planning to meet with community leaders and local elected officials to ensure that everyone is heard and has a seat at the table.
Markey also questioned the Department of Homeless Service's figures that 240 registered homeless people listed Maspeth as their last permanent address.
“Were they burned out of their homes?” she asked. “Did the family throw them out?”
Protesters call for boycott
Among the protest signs this week in front of the Holiday Inn Express the city wants to turn into a homeless shelter were a few that called for a boycott of Holiday Inn Hotels nationwide.
“This is a beautiful hotel,” said Michael LoCascio, one of the more vocal leaders of the protests. “A Holiday Inn which was built 40 months ago should not be turned into a shelter.
“Holiday Inn should not sanction this, it’s a big conglomerate,” he added. “They don’t need this to hurt their reputation around the country. I certainly won’t stay in a Holiday Inn anywhere, and a whole bunch of people in that ‘pen’ over there are doing the same.”
LoCascio alleges he spoke to a man who is staying at the hotel with his 96-year-old mother on a ventilator.
“The man told me the city is paying for his room,” he said.
The city has repeatedly denied the Department of Homeless Services is sheltering homeless at the hotel.
CB5 to hold public hearing
In response to a proposal by the city Department of Homeless Services and the Human Resources Administration to use the Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road in Maspeth as a residence for homeless couples or parents with an adult child, Community Board 5 will conduct a public hearing on Wednesday, August 31, at 7 p.m.
The hearing will be held at the Knockdown Center at 52-19 Flushing Avenue in Maspeth.
CB5 district manager Gary Giordano said there will be a formal opportunity for local residents and business representatives to hear specifics of the proposal, to ask questions of city agency representatives, and to testify for or against the plan.
He added that every effort will be made to have this hearing conducted respectfully and thoughtfully.
Anyone wishing to speak at the hearing is asked to register in advance by calling Board 5 at (718) 366-1834 or sending an email to email@example.com. Depending on the number of speakers registering, speaking time will be limited to three minutes or less for each speaker.
Speakers are asked to provide a written copy of their testimony at the time of the hearing.