Tag Archives: Elmhurst

Protestors demand better housing for Pan American homeless shelter residents


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Asha Mahadevan

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Demands were made and tears were shed Wednesday morning at a protest outside the Pan American Hotel homeless shelter in Elmhurst, but this one was different from other protests of the past few months.

Protestors during the Aug. 20 rally were in support of the shelter’s residents and demanded permanent affordable housing for them.

The organizations Picture The Homeless, DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center and CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities gave the shelter’s residents a platform to air their grievances.

“The main purpose is to ratchet down the feelings between the community and the shelter,” said a Picture The Homeless spokeswoman, who goes by the moniker Ms. K. “We all want the same thing: permanent housing. That is less disruptive for the homeless and for the community.”

She also alleges that the city pays the shelter more than $3,000 per person each month and instead, if they offered the money to the residents as a subsidy toward their rent, many of them would not have become homeless in the first place.

“It is much cheaper than sending them to an area they are not familiar with,” she said.

Christine Napolitano, who lives with her three children in the shelter, agreed, adding that the four of them have to live in one room and eat food that “you won’t even give your dog.”

Napolitano is not allowed to cook in the shelter. Her children are enrolled in schools in the Bronx but her repeated requests to be transferred to a shelter in that borough have been denied.

“We are not bad people because we are homeless,” she said. “We are not here to cause trouble.”

The message seems to be getting through to the community, which for the past few months, have gathered outside the shelter and yelled insults at the residents.

“We are not against the homeless. We just don’t like the way the government is spending taxpayers’ money. If there was more affordable housing, they can get an apartment with a living room and a kitchen for $1,600,” said Irene Chu, an Elmhurst resident for the past 40 years. “Instead, children cannot even do their homework in this room in this shelter. The homeless are really the victims here. They are being abused while someone else makes all the money.”

Elmhurst resident Tom Lai claimed housing the homeless in shelters instead of creating affordable housing was “a bad idea” but he is hopeful that “good sense will prevail.”

Jaime Weisberg, 38, traveled from her home in Astoria to the shelter to offer her support.

“I have been seeing the hatred coming from the community,” she said, referring to the previous protests. “It is appalling. This doesn’t represent Queens. We are better than this.”

The Department of Homeless Services said the shelter offers residents three meals a day, case management, and job and housing counseling, which serve as the foundation for the residents to secure jobs, save money and be able to move to self-sufficiency and permanent housing.

“We are always open to hearing ideas on how to improve our families’ stay in shelters, as we know this is not an easy time for them,” DHS said.

 

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Elmhurst apartment building sells for $21 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Massey Knakal

A 103-unit apartment building in Elmhurst sold for $21 million, according to real estate company Massey Knakal, which announced the sale on Thursday.

The six-story building, which is 89,000 square-feet and has 21 indoor parking spaces, is located on the corner of 80th Street and 45th Avenue.

The sale breaks down to approximately $203,883 per unit and $236 per square foot. There are 18 studios, 42 one-bedroom apartments and 43 two-bedroom units in the building. 

Massey Knakal said that the property is ideal for condominium conversion.

 

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Elmhurst Hospital pediatric patients to get Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A wave of green is coming to Elmhurst Hospital.

Children who are currently patients in the pediatric center at the hospital located at 79-01 Broadway, as well as the patients’ families, will soon be given the option to enroll in the organization Wholesome Wave’s Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program.

The four-month program, which is expected to begin this month, will provide healthy eating and living assistance to about 100 families with children between 2 and 18 who are identified to be overweight and obese.

During the program, the families will have monthly meetings with hospital staff, including physicians and nutritionists, where they will receive counseling, learn about eating healthy, take part in surveys and also have their health and weight recorded after each month.

The families will also receive vouchers or prescriptions, with values that vary depending on household size, to use in green markets throughout the city. Once visiting the green market, the families will receive health bucks which they can use to purchase fruits and vegetables.

Every Tuesday outside of Elmhurst Hospital, GrowNYC holds the Elmhurst Greenmarket from 8 a.m to 4 p.m.

“We are hoping that doing this will expose the inner city families to fresh produce and what the green markets around the city have to offer,” said Dr. Randi Wasserman, director of pediatrics at Elmhurst Hospital. “We are very committed to making our children safer and healthier. This is just one step.”

Wholesome Wave, which has programs throughout 25 states, began the New York City initiative last year in Harlem and the Bronx, and this year added on Elmhurst Hospital as the first in Queens.

“[The program] shows [patients] they can live in the middle of New York City and still get fresh vegetables,” Wasserman said.

According to Wasserman, this program is only the beginning for the hospital, which hopes to create a healthy lifestyles program and also reach out to the community with other programs.

“It’s part of the bigger picture of our commitment to tackling [obesity] in our population and in the community,” Wasserman said. “We are hoping this will just be the beginning of a number of initiatives.”

 

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Man charged with shooting at cops in Elmhurst


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Update 4:03 p.m.

A man wanted for shooting at cops in Elmhurst this June was apprehended in New Jersey and charged with attempted murder, officials said.

Christian Mosquera, 20, of Corona, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Wednesday on charges of attempted aggravated murder, attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment, prosecutors said.

A sergeant and police officer, both in uniform and in a marked police car, were responding to a trespassing call around 1:50 a.m. on June 21 when they saw a man chasing another man and firing shots at him at Lamont Avenue and Forley Street, according to police.

The cops jumped from their car and ordered the man to drop the gun, but instead he turned on them, raised the weapon and shot at them, authorities said.

The officers returned fire, but no one was hit in the exchange. When Mosquera fled, he allegedly left behind a .22 caliber pistol.

Shortly after the incident, police offered a $12,000 reward leading to an arrest and conviction, and released a photo of Mosquera, identifying him as a suspect.

According to the district attorney’s office, when Mosquera was apprehended he allegedly told Union City, N.J. officers that “I know this is about that thing in New York. I saw it on the news. I saw my picture in the paper. I wasn’t shooting at police. I shot one or two times at someone else.”

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WATCH: 93-year-old Rockaway man pulls pickup truck with teeth for ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judgement Week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Eric Liebowitz/NBC


Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein proved on national television that he is still young enough to pull a pickup truck with his teeth, but was it enough to get him to the next round of “America’s Got Talent”?

In his second appearance on the NBC reality competition show Tuesday night, the 93-year-old tugged the approximately 5,000-pound vehicle along with his younger brother in the front seat and judges  judges Heidi Klum, Mel B, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern, and host Nick Cannon in the back.

“I’m here to prove that i’m the world’s greatest strongman—agewise or otherwise,” Greenstein said before performing for the judges.

EMS was standing by in case something happened to Greenstein. Mandel asked him if he was alright after he seemed out of breath following the stunt, but EMS personnel said the second-generation strongman had a good heart rate.

During the show’s season nine premiere on May 27, he used his choppers to pull a 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it. The feat earned yeses from Klum, Mel B and Mandel, and another audition during Judgement Week.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

That same sentiment may have been felt after his second performance, and on Wednesday’s episode he was not chosen as one of the 47 acts to perform live at Radio City Music Hall.

“It doesn’t disappoint me. I love doing it and I’ll keep on doing it as long as I keep going,” Greenstein said after learning he was cut.

Throughout the Judgement Week auditions, the judges kept expressing that it was a competitive season.

Greenstein was up against several impressive variety acts, some of which made it to live shows, including a man who performs feats of strength, 26-year-old JD Anderson.

If he had gone further in the competition  Greenstein would have liked to have tried to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years. But he’s happy to have just honored the legacy of his father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom.”

“I got my message across and that was my father’s memory,” he said.

Greenstein was not the only Queens resident to appear on the show this season. Roger “Rogue” Quan, a Briarwood magician who owns Rogue Magic and Funshop in Elmhurst, received four yeses from the judges on the July 1 episode. Though he did not make it onto the Judgement Week episodes and was not selected as one of the finalist for the live shows, Quan is thinking about auditioning for another season.

“I was really disappointed,” Quan said. “I already prepared my next four acts. Maybe I’ll try again next year.”

 

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Elmhurst community grows garden next to LIRR tracks for over 20 years, agency unaware


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated Friday, July 25, 12:20 p.m.

 

Something is growing in the Long Island Railroad’s backyard.

But the MTA said it was unaware of hundreds of feet of community gardens snuggled against the railroad tracks in Elmhurst, mere feet from moving trains and in plain view of commuters looking out from train windows.

Elmhurst residents living down 47th Avenue between 76th and 82nd streets have been keeping the gardens, growing everything from flowers to vegetables for more than 20 years, according to one of the urban farmers, who declined to give his name.

These gardens are found behind the apartment buildings lining the avenue and are cared for by residents of the buildings.

The resident said he has been coming to the gardens to pick vegetables for the past 10 years as he picked a zucchini and hot peppers to bring home.

There is only one entrance to these gardens: through a hole cut through a fence that separates the buildings from the tracks.

Although surrounded by garbage, couches and tire rims, the vegetable and flower gardens are well kept. Residents have developed a path to allow visitors to move around the gardens.

One resident said he sees one or two people come in and out of the gardens every morning.

Community Board 4 said it was not aware of the gardens but that residents in the communities surrounding Elmhurst tend to take vacant plots of land and turn them into something useful, mostly gardens.

When asked about these particular gardens, which are on MTA/LIRR property, an LIRR spokesman said there are no records of any formal authorization given to residents at that location.

According to the spokesman, the MTA has a policy that allows individuals and entities to enter into “year-to-year agreements to maintain gardens on MTA agency property, subject to certain requirements.”

The LIRR instructed The Courier to “have [the gardeners] call our real estate person, John Coyne.”

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that an MTA spokesman declined to answer questions directly regarding safety.

 

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Families at Pan American homeless shelter reportedly bused to movies during third protest


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents of the controversial Pan American Hotel homeless shelter were kept away from protestors during another rally against the opening of the site, according to a published report.

About 550 residents gathered Tuesday to hold another protest in front of the hotel located on Queens Boulevard and prior to the rally, the Department of Homeless Services arranged to have 230 children and adults from the shelter bused to the movies, DNAinfo reported.

The residents were taken to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2” paid for by the agency at a theater in Jamaica in order to remove the children from any hatred that “potentially could be exhibited” during the July 22 rally, according to DNAinfo.

Last night’s rally is the third held by residents opposing the shelter which currently houses more than 180 families. The community has said that the hotel was turned into the shelter, by nonprofit Samaritan Village, without residents and elected officials being given prior notice.

The last protest, which coincided with Community Board 4’s meeting with the DHS and residents, was filled with hundreds of protestors shouting criticisms back and forth with shelter residents.

Two weeks ago, just a neighborhood away, DHS approved the conversion of the 121-room Westway Motor Inn in East Elmhurst into a permanent homeless shelter as well.

Community members and elected officials in that area also say they were not told or asked about the decision.

The hotel previously was used as an emergency overnight site for homeless families, but two years ago the DHS has said it would not turn the motel into a permanent homeless shelter.

An emergency town hall meeting and public protest against the East Elmhurst homeless shelter is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

 

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Stringer criticizes DHS for handling of homeless shelter placement process


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Salvatore Licata

Amid ongoing controversy over several Queens homeless shelters, the city comptroller has said the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is “failing” in the way it deals with homelessness throughout the five boroughs.

In a letter to DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor, City Comptroller Scott Stringer addressed the ongoing “homelessness crisis, particularly among families” in New York City. He noted that there are different causes that contribute to the rise, however the “current playbook” in dealing with the issue needs to be changed.

“Especially concerning to my office is the emergency contracting approach that the Department of Homeless Services has employed to site new facilities in neighborhoods with minimal community consultation,” Stringer wrote in the letter on Thursday.

In one case, Glendale residents have been fighting for more than two years to stop an abandoned manufacturing plant from becoming a homeless shelter. The community complained that they were given little to no notice about the shelter.

“DHS must begin to immediately repair its relationships with local communities by creating a robust consultative process with community stakeholders for all of its currently planned sites and for those proposed in the future,” Stringer wrote. “This process should allow for meaningful input from local stakeholders, advocacy groups, and elected officials.”

In the past month, two western Queens neighborhoods have also had to deal with unannounced homeless shelters being moved into two hotels.

Hundreds of protestors spoke against the city’s initiative to house homeless families at the Pan American Hotel on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst without asking for any input from the community.

Last week, the DHS approved the conversion of the Westway Motor Inn on Astoria Boulevard into a shelter housing over 100 families. Residents and elected officials are outraged the agency let them know about the shelter just a day before the families began moving into it.

“If DHS continues to neglect communities until after emergency contracting decisions have been made it will neither benefit from local knowledge of the area nor engender harmonious integration with the surrounding communities,” Stringer wrote.

 

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New storytelling series shares people’s tales of coming to Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Queens Documented flyer final new


A new quarterly storytelling series is looking to share the tales of the people who make up the diverse borough of Queens.

Queens Documented, a project of the initiative Five Boro Story Project, which creates community events to showcase stories and art inspired by the city’s neighborhoods, will officially launch on Sunday at Terraza 7, located at 40-19 Gleane St.

The free event will feature stories from three speakers who will share their journeys coming to Queens, music inspired by the borough and an open-mic session for audience members to also talk about their Queens-themed experiences.

Bridget Bartolini, founder of Five Boro Story Project and a native Queens resident, said she hopes the series, which is expected to take place every three months at Terraza 7, will bring people together and create connections within the community.

“I really hope that people at the event will get to know each other,” Bartolini said. “I want to create an opportunity for people to get to know their neighbors. Come as strangers and leave as neighbors.”

When it came to picking a venue for the series, Bartolini said Terraza 7, located between the neighborhoods of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, was a “special spot” because it serves as more than just a bar; it is also a cultural venue.

Bartolini said she encourages people to contact the group if they are interested on being featured as a speaker.

The July 20 launch event, which begins at 6 p.m., will include speakers Susan Peret, Angy Rivera and Affandy Yacoob, and finish off with music by Nicholas Howard, singer-songwriter and music producer, and Danon Singh, East Elmhurst lawyer and MC.

The Queens Documented series was also produced by community-based organization SEVA and commissioned by nonprofit The Laundromat Project’s “Create Change” program.

For more info, visit fiveborostoryproject.org.

 

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Mini-documentary features ‘remarkable stories’ from Queens magic shop


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Michael “Six” Muldoon


America already knows he’s “Got Talent.” A new mini-documentary is now showing how one Queens magician has helped a pair of local tricksters and countless others through his shop.

“The Magic Man,” a six-minute film recently released on YouTube as part of Bacardi’s The Untameable Series, features Rogue Magic and Funshop on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst.

The store is owned by 35-year-old Briarwood magician Roger “Rogue” Quan who appeared on the July 1 episode of “America’s Got Talent,” and also owns Rogue Magic Bar & Theatre in Rego Park.

Quan opened the store in 2000, and in addition to selling tricks, the business became like a sanctuary for local youngsters.

“I pushed these kids. If they needed money, needed a place to stay,” Quan said, he helped them out. “I created another family and they helped me out.”

Two of those people’s stories are the focus of “The Magic Man” — Ridgewood resident Michael “Six” Muldoon and Brooklyn native Devonte Rosero.

Both men have made careers out of magic after dealing with personal struggles.

At a young age, Muldoon, now 25, coped with having a sixth finger and weight issues. His Maspeth house burned downed when he was 11 and his parents separated around that time.

Muldoon found magic at about age 13, and bought his first trick from Quan’s store.

“It kind of became an addiction after that,” said Muldoon, who eventually started working at the shop.

Quan not only helped give Muldoon the confidence he needed, but also his stage name — ”Six.”

“He gave us a place to connect, to be open, to find ourselves,” Muldoon said.

After Muldoon nearly died from a ruptured spleen at 18, and was looking to give back, Rosero, who had just met the founder of Magicians Without Borders, suggested that Muldoon work with the organization.

Today, the two are still involved with the group, which travels to more than 30 countries “using magic to entertain, educate and empower.”

They also both started System 6 Magic, a company that produces playing cards and DVDs, and have each become accomplished performers and entrepreneurs.

Though he became interested in magic at an early age, in his teen years Rosero, now 24, started associating with local street gangs.

After landing in the hospital, Rosero received a call from Quan, whose shop he used to go to four or five years earlier, urging him to try out for a magic competition, he recalls in “The Magic Man.”

“If Rouge had not called me, I would be in jail or dead,” Rosero said.

The mini-documentary is not the first time Quan’s magic shop and some of the people it’s helped have been captured on film.

A full-length documentary called “The Magic Men,” featuring Rosero and another local magician, Miles Thorn, was screened at the Woodstock Film Festival in 2013. The film’s producer is trying to get it distributed for full release in New York City, according to Quan. He believes it may have been the reason the filmmakers behind the Bacardi piece came calling.

The aim of the Bacardi series is to tell “remarkable stories of irrepressible spirits from around the world.”

Some of that spirit is summed up in how Quan answers the question about why he does what he does in the documentary.

“Why do I do it? Because I want people to believe. That’s what magic’s all about.”

 

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FBI releases video in Elmhurst unsolved armored car robbery, links suspects to second heist


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo/video courtesy of the FBI

The FBI has released video footage of the unsolved robbery of an armored truck guard in Elmhurst earlier this year.

Authorities now believe the same suspects may be linked to a second heist at a PLS Check Cashing location at 105-22 Northern Blvd. Corona in on January 25, 2013.

During the Elmhurst robbery, a GardaWorld armored truck arrived at the HSBC Bank at 82-57 Broadway just after 12 p.m., on January 31 to make a regularly scheduled deposit pick-up.  As one of the armed guards was leaving the bank, the three suspects attacked him at gunpoint inside the ATM lobby, according to the FBI.

The suspects may have used a .45 semi-automatic handgun during the robbery and as they fled they sprayed the guard with mace. The three men then fled on foot with cash from the guard, the FBI said.

Authorities describe the men as either Asian or Hispanic and they were dressed in heavy winter clothes. The getaway vehicle is believed to be a green Ford Explorer XLT, possibly from 2002 or 2003, with a dealer or out-of-state rear license plate.

GardaWorld is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the capture, arrest, and conviction of those responsible and the recovery of the stolen money.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (212) 384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

 

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Elmhurst mother charged with murder of baby


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

Updated 3:15 p.m.

An Elmhurst mother has been arrested after she apparently suffocated her 11-month-old son inside their apartment on Sunday, officials said.

Officers, responding to a 9-1-1 call of a baby not breathing, arrived at the 52nd Avenue home of Nicole Kelly, 22, around 4 p.m., according to police. They were then informed that the child, Kiam Felix Jr., had been taken to Elmhurst Hospital.

Kiam was pronounced dead at the hospital.

His mother, Kelly, has been charged with second-degree murder in his death, officials said.

Kelly allegedly made statements implicating herself in her son’s killing, saying, “I reached my breaking point, I didn’t want him anymore,” according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

She is accused of covering the face and body of her child by tucking him into a bed sheet, then watching him struggle to breathe and move before leaving him alone for about 30 minutes, the district attorney said. When Kelly came back, he was allegedly blue and unresponsive, and she did not take him to the hospital until several hours later.

A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said the cause of death is still pending, but according to the district attorney’s office, “preliminary findings are consistent with the defendant’s statements that she prevented the child from breathing.”

On Monday, Kelly said in a post on her Facebook page that she wished there was some way she could bring him back and should have protected him as his mother.

“Missing my baby boy so much wish there was some way I could bring him back to life I feel horrible knowing he passed away Am his Mother I was supposed to protect him I know his spirit will always be around me I would never forget my 1st Born he will forever remain in my heart & his family hearts,” she wrote.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Kelly was awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court.

 

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Cops looking into death of Elmhurst baby


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image


Police are investigating the death of an 11-month-year-old Elmhurst boy who died on Sunday afternoon.

The infant, Kiam Felix Jr., was brought by private means from his home to Elmhurst Hospital around 4 p.m., where he was pronounced dead, according to authorities.

Officers had been called to the child’s residence, in response to a 9-1-1 call of a baby not breathing, cops said. When they arrived, the officers were told he had been taken to the hospital.

There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

 

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WATCH: Queens magician performs staple gun Russian roulette on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ wows judges


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC


Queens magician Roger “Rogue” Quan took his chances with one out of four loaded staple guns on “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night and four out of four judges loved it.

The Briarwood resident and owner of  Rogue Magic and Funshop in Elmhurst performed his staple gun Russian roulette routine on the July 1 episode.

Judge Mel B acted as an assistant, loading one industrial staple gun and shuffling it with three empty ones in a bag. Then, using her “woman’s intuition” she had to pick the three empty ones out of the bag and fire each of them at his temple.

“Do not trust me,” Mel B said as she was about to choose the third gun.

But Quan did trust her, and it was empty. Then, with the fourth gun, he stapled a photo of himself into a piece of wood.

The “dangerous magic” trick as Quan described it rendered Mel B and fellow judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern nervous during the performance and impressed at the finish.

But most importantly it left them wanting more.

“I haven’t seen anything like it. I thought you were fantastic. I want to see more of you,” Klum said.

“You entertained us. It was a great presentation. After seeing that I can’t wait to see you again and that’s how this works,” Stern said.

“It was the most fulfilling moment of my performing career,” Quan told The Queens Courier.

Quan is now slated to appear on Judgment Week later this month, where it will be decided which 48 acts will compete in the live show.

 

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Elmhurst residents confront homeless families over controversial hotel shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirao

A face-to-face confrontation erupted between homeless families and protestors Monday night over a controversial shelter at an Elmhurst hotel.

After thousands gathered in front of the Pan American hotel during a June 17 protest, Community Board 4 called a meeting at the Elks Lodge on Queens Boulevard on June 30 to discuss the issue of the hotel being turned into a homeless shelter without residents and elected officials given prior notice.

Outside, hundreds of protestors exchanged comments back and forth with shelter occupants yelling at them to “get out,” “get a job,” and calling them “lazy” and “bums.”

Lale West, who recently moved in to the hotel with her son, daughter and husband, said the protestors made her upset, especially seeing little children shouting and holding signs.

“I’m upset because they don’t understand what is going on,” said West, who works as a chef. “Just how they have kids, we all have kids and we’re trying to make ourselves better. It doesn’t mean we’re bums. Today you have a job and tomorrow you’ll wake up and not have one.”

Nonprofit Samaritan Village proposed the Pan American Hotel, located at 7900 Queens Blvd., as a shelter to house 200 homeless people. Currently about 90 are already residing there.

“This is outrageous,” said Emmanuel Escoto, who protested outside the Elks Lodge alongside his 10–year-old daughter Jona. “If the city is so concerned for the homeless, why don’t they provide services for them? This should not be a dumping ground. It’s a shame the city isn’t doing more to help them, they are just sweeping it under the rug — our rug.”

The meeting was open to people who had pre-registered and included representatives from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), Executive Vice President for Samaritan Village Douglas Apple, community board members and elected officials.

“It is our intention and our plan to work closely with you, to ensure that the program we run at the PanAm serves residents and as part of the community,” Apple said to the audience. “We are not here to add problems, we are not here to create issues.”

Residents who signed up to speak during the meeting, which went on for more than two hours, raised concerns over community safety, overcrowding of schools, increase in property taxes and crime.

“I am not against homeless people, I am not against providing support for needy folks who need it. What I am against, and I think that everyone here is in agreement with me, is the process that [Samaritan Village] took to put the shelter in our community,” said Jenny Shao, a science teacher at the International High School for Health Sciences in Elmhurst. “For you to say this is an emergency plan to put into Elmhurst, a community of immigrants who often don’t have a voice, you think you can take advantage of us.”

According to Lorraine Stephens, first deputy commissioner for DHS, the “emergency declaration” to move the families comes from a recent “crisis situation” with a large increase in homeless families.

“In New York City we have a right to shelter, what that means is that we need to make sure there are no homeless children and families on the street,” Stephens said. “Part of that is what caused this emergency declaration that we’re in right now today.”

The politicians present promised the community they would work with Samaritan Village and DHS officials in regards to the hotel.

At the end, the community board unanimously voted on a motion to have the shelter removed from the hotel, but CB 4 chair Louis Walker said the decision is just advisory.

 

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