You are reading

DHS Committed to Opening New Blissville Shelter, Residents Say City is ‘Taking Over’ the Neighborhood

Attendees at the DHS’ town hall. (Photo: Christian Amez)

March 16, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

Blissville residents showed up in droves at the Department of Homeless Services’ town hall last night to demand that the city throw away plans to open a new homeless shelter in the neighborhood.

The permanent shelter is set to open at the current site of the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in April, and will be the third facility in the Blissville area sheltering the homeless. The nearby City View Inn and Best Western have been temporarily housing the homeless since 2017, and will begin to be phased out in 2021, the DHS said.

The new facility, to be named North Star, will provide shelter for up to 154 homeless adult families, or at least 308 people. The shelter is also the first to open in Queens under de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide” plan, which looks to eliminate the use of cluster sites and hotels—like the City View Inn and Best Western—and open multi-service facilities like these.

Blissville residents outside St. Raphael’s church, where the DHS’ town hall was held. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

But area residents and business owners, echoing the safety and crime concerns shared at the last Community Board 2 meeting, said the new shelter is simply too much for the remote neighborhood of roughly 500, and the community cannot wait several more years for the shelters already in their neighborhood to be phased out.

“We are begging you to please not take any more [hotels] away from us,” said Erika Clooney, co-owner of the Bantry Bay Public House.

Clooney directly asked DHS Administrator Joslyn Carter about the number of homeless individuals being house in Blissville compared to the existing residents.

“How is placing 300 new people into our community when we only have 450 not a takeover?” Clooney asked. “That’s up to over 500 new people. It doesn’t make sense.”

“What I want to say to you is—we are going to close the commercial hotels,” Carter responded. “We are going to do that.”

Residents said they’re doing more than their fair share compared to other neighborhoods, given the size of Blissville.

“We’re talking about Blissville, which is isolated,” said David Martin, a fourth-generation resident. “Its actually not in-my-backyard—this is our backyard, our front yard, our drive way, and our living room.”

The panel at last night’s DHS town hall. Home/Life, the non-profit service provider, was also on the panel. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

Some attendees asked how a hotel built in a mostly industrial area, with few shops and services, could be fit for a high-quality homeless facility. Others asked how Home/Life, the non-profit service provider, will have room in the location to offer programs, like counseling and health services, and basic needs like laundry and meals, to the families.

“How much thought did you and DHS and [Commissioner] Banks take into account?” said Warren Davis, a near 20-year resident of Blissville. “Placing vulnerable people in an isolated commercial zone, hidden away from desperately needed services and resources…only shows how the mayor and DHS are ashamed of them.”

Davis added: “We need homes—not hotels pretending to be shelters.”

Jackie Bray, First Deputy Commissioner for the DHS, said the agency has strict regulations on how much square footage is needed to operate a high quality shelter. “The site meets those regulations,” Bray said.

In addition, the facility will bring meals in for residents of the shelter, and will provide laundry on site. As the shelter moves toward opening, Home/Life will decide if rooms need to be taken offline to accommodate for office space.

The panel of DHS officials also discussed other features set to be in place at the shelter, like security guards and cameras, curfews, and private transportation to and from the shelter. The agency said it would work with the 108th Precinct to address safety concerns.

But the crowd was not accepting of the agency’s responses. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Long Island City), who does not support the city’s plans for the new shelter, said the community has been haphazardly overburdened for too long.

“Because there is no plan, really, to build purpose based shelters, they just continue to come back to this community and our neighborhood,” Van Bramer said. “That’s not fair to this community.”

Van Bramer said he and members of the community have an “obligation” to tell the mayor that he is wrong.

“Is it a new shelter that was built for the homeless? No,” Van Bramer said. “It is another commercial hotel being converted overnight into a shelter. That is not the [mayor’s] plan.”

Van Bramer added: “They should look at this and say, ‘You know what? Three shelters, within several months, within a seven block radius— that is too much for one community.”

At the end of the town hall, the DHS said it intends to continue with its plan to open the new shelter.

email the author: [email protected]

29 Comments

LIC Neighbor

Just found a used hypodermic needle dumped next to the sidewalk tree on the side of my house, they are shooting up heroin now, a gift from our new homeless neighbors at the Best Western homeless hotel down the block – 20 years living here and this has never happened before. Damn how this neighborhood changed in a matter of a few months. It’s a shame. Took a picture ot it.




5



0
Reply
108 PCT UC

It is probably one of the junkies that already live in the neighborhood. Blissville has a bunch of junkies life John fish, white Chris, Froggy voice Mikey and Pauly. 32-19 Starr avenue is a dope house and has been for about 7 years. A big coke dealer was busted around the corner on Greenpoint in 2017. I don’t want the homeless people there either but the residents have been causing problems for a lot longer than them homeless. If anything, the loser drug crew should be happy that new customers are moving in their hood.




0



2
Reply
Am Goodridge

What if Governor Cuomo do? For not helping to address about crime & poverty we can’t not turn back to the dark days.
We must come out take action & protest at community board meetings to demand real low-income /middle class permanent affordable housing for families, seniors & veterans making 10%-50% of their AMI. it’s time to vote Cuomo out of office this September.
#votecuomoout




2



1
Reply
Anonymous

Oh wow, had no idea about the backstory of the hotel or the group that will provide service to the homeless. Thank you for the information. Even if it seems ” the powers that be just do what they want”, the community deserves to fully understand the issues affecting us all. But “who will tell the people?”, to borrow the title of a famous book.. Sometimes it seems only the LIC Post & some of the commenters will.




5



10
Reply
NoMoreTaxes

Socio-economic engineering. Stalin did this sort of thing. Their are moving homeless families from the Bronx and Brooklyn, affected by generational poverty, into stable, middle class neighborhoods in Queens–with good, well performing schools, where parents are actively involved in the education of their children–in order for these low income kids to break out of the generational poverty. So, not only are we the highest taxed and tolled people in our entire nation, we are now being made effectively responsible for taking these persons out of poverty. Congratulations!




9



14
Reply
jo

Blissville is not too far from LIC and Sunnyside. LIC is too expensive and oversatuated. I wonder if the area has a zoning that favorable to developers. Could the reason for this concentration of homeless shelter be an attempt by debozo and his crony developers to force the area residents to sell their homes at rock bottom prices…Think about it, as evil as it may sound, I would not pull it pass them. Blissville is up for grabs… hand tight guys and fight them tooth and nail.




22



2
Reply
Withheld

1). The Marriot Fairview which will house 154 families is owned by John Lam Group which is an EB5 approved venture. The EB5 program was approved by the US government and designed to allow wealthy foreigners who invest $500,000 in an approved EB5 program in this case the John Lam Group, and if the $500,000 creates 10 US jobs for for up to 10 US workers it will allow John Lam Group to then sponsor and file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for the wealthy foreigners to obtain permanent residence in the USA for themselves and immediate family (spouse and children). The majority of John Lam’s foreign investors are Chinese nationals. Basically they are purchasing a Green Card. At the end of a 5 years the investment will be returned to the foreign investor. So in essence we the taxpayers are funding the the EB5 program for John Lam Group and immigrant visas for wealthy foreign nationals immigrating to the US on the backs of NYC taxpayers and the homeless families by paying with our tax dollars for the leasing of the hotel at a cost of over $50,000 dollars per month.
2). The Not for profit Home/Life owned by sarah adler/ gerald cohen power brokers with connections to city hall and the mayor. They operate several non profits throughout the city which provide services to Dozens of shelters that they run. They bill the city for the homeless from security, social workers, nutritionists, yoga instructors to laundry services at these shelters at incredible high rates. This is why the city is paying $350 per night to house a homeless person at the Fairview. Adler was also a councilman in DiBlasio’s former district which covered Park Slope. There is big money here hundreds of millions of our tax dollars siphoned from city coffers. There is an air of impropriety and corruption the mayor is facilitating this for his friends. These are the same poeple who have raised millions for the mayor and our local politicians. This must be brought to light. DiBlasio must be investigated for corruption.




29



48
Reply
Withheld

Correction cost of housing 154 families at the Fairview will be over $50,000 per day!!!!




11



2
Reply
yourneighbor

DiBlasio had been doing this for years now. Not sure why so many people voted for him.




28



52
Reply
Withheld

The owner of the Hotel Fairview is the John Lam Group. The John Lam Group is an EB5 approved program. The EB5 was designed to allow wealthy foreigners (in this case mostly Chinese/Russian Nationals) to invest $500,000 in the USA, provide 10 US workers with jobs, etc. The foreign investor can then purchase a Green Card. You park the $500,000 in this case with John Lam Group they then petition the US Citizenship an Immigration Service and obtain a Green Card for the wealthy foreign national and his immediate family (spouse and children under age 21) At the end of a 5 year period they get their $500,000 investment back. So in essence we as tax payers are funding the foreign nationals Green Cards petitons on the backs of homeless families at the Joh Lam Hotel which all of a sudden became an extremely profitable business enterprise. Now to Home/Life Not for Profit owned and operated by susan alter and gerald schreck. Susan Alter is a former NYC councilman from Brooklyn, NY. These two are power brokers and politically connected — friends of the Mayor. They operate dozens of shell not-for-profits and connected to dozens of businesses that provide the services at inflated costs and have enriched themselves and their associates in the process. They provide security to laundry services, to social workers, drug counselors and related businesses at the dozens of shelters they operate. They support, fund, raise money for our Mayor and yes even Jimmy Van Bramer. There are powerful forces at work here and hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. The city coffers are being depleted, we the taxpayers are being ripped off right before our very eyes. The John Lam Group and Home/Life are set to earn about $18 million to house the 154 families for a period of one year at the Fairview – from one single hotel.This smells, tastes like corruption and despite all the noise made by residents of Blissville at St. Raphael’s church and the 15 second coverage by the major NY news outlets nothing can stop this, its a runaway train until someone uncorks the genie from the bottle and brings down Mayor DiBlasio for corruption.




16



24
Reply
MTNewhouse

Elizabeth, put yourself in the position of the 54 families (mothers with babies) that were thrown out in the middle of the night by DHS/de Blasio! They were replaced by 100 single men. Most are self-confessed parolees and have been aggressively panhandling, smoking narcotics and dealing drugs. They are ALL new faces to the community. I don’t know where live but it sure ain’t Blissville.

“Home/Life, the non-profit service provider, will have room in the location to offer programs, like counseling and health services, and basic needs like laundry and meals, to the families.”
Have you ever stepped inside Fairfield? How is it humane to put an ADULT family of 2-4 in a 10’x10′ room with no kitchen? The lobby space fits only 30 people, there will be an minimum of 460 homeless adults!! There are only 2 washers/dryers. There’re no laundromats, supermarkets, libraries! Where are they going to go?? Blissville (population of 450) already has 2 shelters. We’ve done MORE than our “Fair Share”. The ratio of homeless to residents will be 1:1 to 2:1 at any given day (City View has 100 single men).

“In addition, the facility will bring meals in for residents of the shelter”
Where will they eat their meals? There is no space for 460 to eat their food. The common area can only support 30 people. They will eat meals in their tiny rooms on the beds? They have to stay in the Fairfield in order to receive these meals? They have NO kitchens!!!

“security guards and cameras, curfews, and private transportation to and from the shelter.”
This sounds like a PRISON!!!
WAREHOUSING!!!!




24



3
Reply
Withheld

I AGREE, NEW NEIGHBORS WHO NEED 92 SECURITY CAMERAS AND SECURITY GUARDS, DRUG COUNSELING, SOCIAL WORKERS, A YOGA INSTRUCTOR AND NUTRITIONIST THEY WILL BRING IN MEALS AT COSTS OF ROUGHLY $350 PER DAY PER ROOM – WHERE IS THE INCENTIVE TO LEAVE THE SHELTER SYSTEM? ALL THIS TO KEEP THEM AT BAY, CONTENT, DOES THE MAYOR FEAR AN UPRISING FROM THAT COMMUNITY IF THEY DON’T DO THIS? IF ANYTHING WE ARE THE ONES WHO NEED THE SECURITY GUARDS AND ARMED PATROLS. WAIT UNTIL THE HOT SUMMER THATS COMING, THE NEIGHBORHOOD WILL BE FLOODED WITH THEM WALKING AROUND AND THEY WILL BE ANGRY, RESENTFUL AND AGRESSIVE WHEN THEY PEEK INTO YOUR SIDE AND BACK YARDS – WHEN YOU ARE HOLDING YOUR FAMILY GATHERINGS AND WEEKEND BBQ’S. THIS IS WHATS COMING THIS SUMMER.




12



20
Reply
WeiMing

The City just took away all the tourist business from miss Erika Clooney. Who is going to compensate her??? This is de Blasio’s brand of communism— using taxpayers money to pay the greedy hotel owners while punishing the working class. Bike lanes on Queens Blvd and soon to be Borough jails are all going kill small businesses. We need to vote these people out including JVB before it is too late.




29



51
Reply
Me

Where is all the “affordable housing” that was supposed to happen? It’s nowhere! Instead the homeless are just being shoved into these hotels because this so called mayor doesn’t know what to do and and really doesn’t care. The rest of us just have to suffer. Oh wait, we have the jails to look forward to.




26



37
Reply
NotIrish

DiBlasio and his antics. He hates Queens, with the exception of Gantry State Park Srip which is populated by mllionaires who are majority out of towners. His bias shines much more than Sunnyside ever will. My advice: stop voting for the exact same people time and time again, and focus on someone who will deliver. The outer boroughs (with the exception of Brooklyn) will suffer for rest of his term, but there will be a time soon when we can vote him out. Vote! Vote! VOTE!




32



33
Reply
Migroschrott

Agree on DeBlasio but millionaires along Gantry State Park? Lmao! 95% of these apartments are rentals that a lot of people can afford when two individuals both earn an average salary ($50k+). The rents will drop even further the more apartments they build. And there are at least another 10k apartments coming onto the market within the next two years. Rents may be higher in LIC than other places but they’re far from unaffordable.




30



9
Reply
Elizabeth

There is no doubt the homeless desperately require shelter. In the past 20 years, we have seen the same homeless people over and over again. They are not violent, but just sit and wait, under the #7 subway line in all types of weather, for some hope. Put yourself in their position.




36



27
Reply
Mitch Waxman

Agreed, Elizabeth. However, putting these vulnerable people two blocks from the Newtown Creek Federal Superfund site? In the path of the 31 million vehicle trips per annum on the LIE, which is one block from the hotel? The 10.2 million vehicle trips per annum coming off the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge? Please visit Blissville, this isn’t a homeless shelter they’re proposing – it’s a penal colony.




12



1
Reply
Maria

I am sure if it was a block from your home, your opinion would be different. Why aren’t there any in the gardens? 4 shelters within a couple of blocks is absolutely insane.




20



0
Reply
MariaD

Maria, no one wants a shelter in their backyard and the homeless don’t want to live in shelters either. They need and want homes. “Why aren’t there any in the gardens?” That’s NOT a solution! That’s just more pitting one group against another. YES! 4 shelters within a couple of blocks is NOT “Fair Share”. The Fairfield is NOT a shelter, it’s ANOTHER hotel turned warehouse!! As long as this continues, the losers will be the homeless families/individuals and the communities that are overburdened by shelters. The winners as someone commented here will be de Blasio and his friends/cronies/foreigner millionaires. But God has the Victory!! I stand firm on that! And he don’t like ugly.




4



0
Reply
MariaD

Also, as JVB stated, his district (District 26) is already sheltering 4 times the amount under the Fair Share/Turning the Tide rules. And that would mean 480 of District 26 homeless. We are now housing 1,600!!!!! Is that Fair Share? Then putting an average minimum of 462 homeless adults in Fairfield and don’t forget the 100 single homeless men in City View, which equals minimum 562 homeless at-risk adults in a community of just 450 which includes 110 children. 562>450 or 1:1 and even at times 2:1 ratio. That’s turning Blissville into a Homeless Village. The services DHS/Home Life will provide in terms of security, therapies will never be enough! It’s criminal to treat these people who have suffered enough like cattle. God has the Victory!!!




6



1
Reply
Withheld

I agree with you Maria, if Jimmy Van Bramer and his husband were affected by the shelters on his side of the Blvd by the Gardens he would have stopped it like he did with the Phipps affordable housing the mayor proposed and wanted to build on their side of the Blvd. I’ve been told that the homeless shelters on this side and Blissville are retribution by the Mayor FOR OPPOSING HIS PLAN ON THE PHIPPS SITE/PARKING LOT. JUST REMEMBER DON’T VOTE FOR JVB WHEN HE RUNS FOR BOROUGH QNS PRESIDENT!!!!




3



2
Reply
Sunnyside of life

Elizabeth, I understand what you are saying with regards to the homeless people we have seen in our neighborhood for 20+ years. The problem is they choose not to stay in homeless shelters for whatever reasons (I can only assume it may be due to mental illness). Now we will have to worry about an exponential amount coming into the neighborhood along with ex convicts. I can deal with the change man and the man who looks like Jesus. Even the woman who tells me McDonald’s is stealing her poop to use in the burgers. But I think that might be the limit for one neighborhood. There are plenty of hotels along Park and 5th Avenues they could turn into a nice shelter.




13



0
Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

Recent News