Tag Archives: homelessness

Women’s homeless shelter to open at site of LIC hotel

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

Updated 11:42 p.m.

The second homeless shelter in New York City erected during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure will open its doors as soon as Oct. 9 in Long Island City.

The Verve will be located at 40-03 29th St.,  the site of the Verve Hotel, and will serve 200 single women. The shelter is opening in response to a 9 percent increase in single adult women coming into the system, according to the mayor’s office. Community Board 1, which includes parts of Long Island City, is home to one other shelter, Westway in East Elmhurst.

The shelter will provide several onsite support services including clinical services for mental health treatment, health and home coordination, supportive housing and employment services. Programs will include money management and independent living skills.

De Blasio’s office held a meeting on Friday, Oct. 2 to notify community members about the opening. Florence Koulouris, district manager for Community Board 1,  attended the meeting after her office got a call late Thursday informing her that a homeless shelter was being placed in CB 1’s jurisdiction. Koulouris was told that the shelter could open as soon as Oct. 9 or on Friday, Oct. 16. The services and staff will be provided by the Acacia Network and the average stay for each woman will be 11 months.

The shelter, located near Growing Up Green charter school, is also 2.5 miles away from Westway. Koulouris said the location of the shelter is “a little troublesome” since it’s in a residential area.

“We want these woman to be comfortable. We want them to have a new start,” Koulouris said. “Is this really the right location?”

The facility will be supervised around the clock and will have security staff stationed on all six floors, including the courtyard. The front entrance to the shelter is equipped with an X-ray scanner, hand wand scanner and three security personnel. All floors and public spaces are monitored with cameras, and staff at the operations reception desk will oversee two large video monitors from inside the front lobby.

The De Blasio administration has invested more than $1 billion over the next four years to address homelessness. There are currently 57,237 individuals in the city’s shelter system, including 12,316 single adults

“We’re seeing more single adult women entering our shelter system and we want to ensure we can provide shelter and services – including employment services and clinical services – to these women as they rebuild their lives,” said Ishanee Parikh, city hall deputy press secretary.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 6, The Courier noticed that guests were still entering and exiting the Verve Hotel.


LIC public art looks to raise awareness about homelessness

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Fanny Allié

Residents and visitors in Long Island City looking for a place to sit will get more than just that when coming into contact with a new public art installation aiming to raise awareness about homelessness.

Brooklyn artist Fanny Allié has come together with the Parks Department to display her most recent artwork called “A Bench for the Night” at the NYC Parks Greenstreet on Jackson Avenue and 46th Avenue.

Allié’s piece, which will be on view through November, is a wooden bench shaped in the silhouette of a sleeping person, reminding those who see is that a public bench serves as a potential bed for some New Yorkers.

“A Bench for the Night,” Allié’s second artwork with that Parks Department’s Art in the Parks program, offers viewers a look into how individuals who live on the street can often become dehumanized.

This piece is a continuation of the artist’s focus on the issue of homelessness. She took part in the Engaging Artists Residency in 2014 organized by the Artist Volunteer Center and More Art, which largely focused on homelessness. During this residency, artists were encouraged to engage in volunteer opportunities – volunteering at least half a day per week at a local charity – and interactive workshops with professionals in the fields of fine art and activism.

Allié’s Long Island City art installation is also a continuation of her 2011 piece called “The Glowing Homeless,” created for Bring to Light NYC: Nuit Blanche in Brooklyn, and which featured a neon outline of a human form that rested of a park bench.

When preparing for the installation, Allié noticed the area where the piece would go lacked seating. Along with raising awareness for homelessness, she has also created a new social space in the plaza.

According to a description of “A Bench for the Night,” the piece looks to reflect a person’s desire to look for an isolated place to rest and be removed from the movement of the city.


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.



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Thursday: Sun and clouds mixed. High 28. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph. Thursday night: Clear skies. Low 19. Winds WNW at 20 to 30 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Latin Dance Classes

Dance instruction at the Queens Theatre for all ages and all levels with renowned instructor Paul Ru Bao of Farrington Ballroom Dance School. After an hour lesson there is an hour of open dance. $10 single class/$45 for five classes. Skip the class and join open dance at 8 pm for $5. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Report: Homelessness on the rise in NYC

According to a new study, a record number of people stayed overnight at New York City homeless shelters in January. Read more: CBS New York/AP

East Harlem explosion, collapse leaves 6 dead, 69 hurt

Federal investigators are on the scene of an explosion and two building collapses at 116th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem, while rescue crews search for those still missing. Read more: ABC New York

De Blasio wants judge to toss cop union challenge to profiling law

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the police unions’ legal challenge to a law making it easier to sue cops for racial profiling is destined for failure — and asked a Manhattan judge to toss the case. Read more: New York Post

State senate makes bid to undo anti-charter school moves

The state Senate will propose sweeping measures in its budget bill to undo Mayor de Blasio’s ­moves against charter schools, sources familiar with the plan said. Read more: New York Post

Teachers fleeing city schools to the suburbs is growing: union

Teachers are fleeing to the suburbs in one of the worst “brain drains” in the history of city schools, union president Michael Mulgrew said Wednesday. Read more: New York Daily News