Homeless shelter halted

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Community concern about a possible homeless shelter was met with understanding when the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) stated that it has no plans to convert an Astoria motel into a full-time facility.

A recent endeavor, led by Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, hoped to halt a non-profit organization’s proposal to make the Westway Motel — currently a temporary, overnight facility for the less fortunate — full time.
“Once again our community sent a strong, united message and the DHS heard us,” Vallone said.
In January of 2012, Community Board 1 received notice that Housing Solutions USA submitted an application to DHS, in the hope of acquiring accommodations for 120 homeless families.
The Westway Motel has acted as a temporary shelter 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.
Vallone argued that the Astoria community could not support the burden of full-time homeless 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.”
Simotas said that while the city has a responsibility to care for its homeless, that effort should not be done while sacrificing the comfort and safety of other residents.
“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 representative from Simotas office, The Westway Motel is going to remain a part-time shelter.