Astoria against homeless shelter

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The Astoria community is hostile towards a potential hostel that would house the local homeless.

Officials and residents banded together against a proposal to turn the Westway Motel – a current impermanent haven for homeless families — into a full-time shelter.

In January of 2012, Community Board 1 received notification that a non-profit organization, Housing Solutions USA, submitted an application to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) in the hopes of acquiring accommodations for 120 homeless families.

The Westway Motel has acted as a temporary shelter for homeless single adults and families since 2006. According to local officials, the facility has been the subject of complaints — ranging from car and home break-ins to prostitution — from residents living in the surrounding area.

In 2007, Councilmember Peter Vallone mediated an agreement to transition the property from a long-term shelter to an overnight one. He feels the Astoria community cannot support the burden brought upon it by full-time housing.

“This community of one- and two-family homes can’t sustain the strain of a full-time homeless shelter,” said Vallone. “It has always been my position that we need to be responsible for our homeless population, but not at the expense of homeowners. We have endured the current terms, but under no circumstances will we allow a full-time shelter.”

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas understands that while the city has a responsibility to care for the homeless population, it should not be done at the expense of the rest of the community.

“Placing over 100 homeless families in a residential community without sufficient access to transportation, grocery stores and other amenities does a disservice not only to those individuals, but to our local residents as well,” said Simotas.

According to a spokesperson from DHS, the proposal regarding the Westway Motel is still being reviewed.