The conversion of an East Elmhurst motel into a homeless shelter was one of many topics addressed by the city’s comptroller during a breakfast last week with western Queens community leaders and elected officials.
Comptroller Scott Stringer was a guest at the United Community Civic Association’s 2015 Legislative/Executive Breakfast on Feb. 6 where members voiced their concerns about air, noise and traffic pollution, unaffordable costs of residential rents, and hospital closings.
“Many of you in this room are at this meeting not just because of yourselves. You believe in New York City, and you love it like I do,” Stringer said at the breakfast. “But we’re also doing this for our children, making sure that the economy is going to fit what they have to do.”
Stringer added that the key idea is to think about the economy in 10 to 15 years and start to think about it as a high-technology economy. He also said that the economy should no longer be Manhattan-centric; instead, all the boroughs should be transformed into economic hubs.
“The government cannot just be in sound bites telling people what they want to hear,” Stringer said. “We’ve got to create a five-borough economic plan and make sure that people can access the middle class. That is how this city was built.”
Residents and community leaders at the breakfast discussed in detail the issue of dealing with the city’s Department of Homeless Services’ decision to convert the Westway Motor Inn, located at 72-05 Astoria Blvd., into a permanent homeless shelter.
Recently, the community voiced its outrage against the city’s decision to house registered sex offender James Bryant at the shelter, which is home to over 100 families with children. Bryant was removed from the shelter on Feb. 5.
Since then, the DHS has proposed changes to its policy to prevent level 2 or 3 sex offenders from being placed in shelters with families and instead referring them to shelters for single adults.
In response, Stringer said that city agencies should have a dialogue with the communities and sit down with leaders to work out issues and “respect people.”
Stringer also said he will personally go to the Westway Motor Inn, tour the facility, look at the issues brought up by community members and take suggestions on what can be done differently.
“We have to make sure the voices of our neighborhoods are heard,” Stringer added. “We will monitor, we will watch and we will speak out.”