Tag Archives: vermin

Pan Am Hotel homeless shelter infested with vermin: report

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents at the emergency homeless shelter located at the former Pan American Hotel are being visited by unwanted guests that have been munching on trash left piled up behind the site, according to a published report.

Members of the community surrounding the homeless shelter, located at 7900 Queens Blvd., captured a pack of rats in the act of looking through the garbage for a meal on April 17, according to the NY Daily News.

Business owners and local residents reportedly say that the garbage, which at first was being put inside a dumpster, has since been piled up in the lot behind the hotel.

Along with the reports of the rats, residents of the homeless shelter said they have issues with cockroaches inside their apartments, which in some cases hold four to five people, the Daily News said.

The former Elmhurst hotel houses over 700 residents, made up of families, many of which have small children.

The city had previously been seeking approval for a five-year, $42 million contract with the nonprofit Samaritan Village Inc. to operate the location as a permanent shelter.

Officials from the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) told the Daily News that as of April 18, Samaritan Village “has been working with the community and is purchasing a garbage compactor that will address these garbage concerns.”

“We are currently working with Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which has provided the specs for the compactor and will provide containers with lids. The garbage will then be compacted. We hope to have this remedied as soon as possible,” the DHS said.

In the past, the shelter has also had a large number of violations such as failure to provide hot water or heat for days, reports of bed bugs, peeling of lead paint in one unit, and garbage left sitting in front of the entrance to the children’s play area, according to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Last November, the grassroots organization Elmhurst United, which has been voicing its opposition to the shelter since day one, said the conditions at the site violate city laws.

The group claims the shelter violates the NYC Administrative Code, which states, “No homeless family shelter shall be established which does not provide a bathroom, a refrigerator and cooking facilities and an adequate sleeping area within each unit within the shelter and which otherwise complies with state and local laws.”

According to the organization, the site does not have kitchens in every unit, which was why initially DHS did not consider the site to be a “permanent family shelter.”


Middle Village train tracks bringing vermin, residents say

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Residents who live along the train tracks in Middle Village have long complained of noise and odors emanating from the rails, though now locals say they’ve been infested with a new disturbance.

Over the past year, those who reside near the railroad tracks say they have experienced an increase in wildlife roaming city streets.

“Come 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock in the morning, you see what’s running around the neighborhood,” said Maspeth resident Tony Nunziato of the mostly nocturnal animals. “You’ll have every kind of animal down there. A lot of possum, skunks, rodents; it’s just a breeding ground.”

The influx of vermin have congregated near the tracks because of a lack of oversight by CSX, the company that runs the rails, residents said, leading to overgrown brush and litter from rail cars carrying construction debris, which they say is not securely sealed.

As of press time, CSX did not respond for comment.

“The problem with the railroads is they don’t really maintain their property. There are a lot of dumped tires down the tracks and as a result there is standing water. So that can bring West Nile virus,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, who added he’s battled with CSX for years to get them to clean up the properties.

Nunziato and Holden both mentioned that the neighboring All Faiths Cemetery was hit with a fine for standing water (which has since been dismissed), but the rail seems to go unregulated.

The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said it is responding to each complaint of standing water by physically inspecting the reported site and treating it if necessary.

Holden said he has received more than a dozen calls this year complaining about the vermin influx. During the spring, the population of skunks near the tracks seemed to boom, he said, though he never personally saw one.

“I don’t see the skunks, but I certainly smell them. Every day I would pass the railroad and there was the skunk smell.” Holden said. “I grew up in the neighborhood, I’m here 60 years and I don’t remember seeing skunks ever, so it’s a little strange that we’re getting them now.”

Waste Management, which uses the rails to ship residential garbage to its facility in West Virginia, said that rail containers are lidded and sealed before they leave the transfer station and placed on the rail cars, preventing any trash from falling onto the tracks.

In Glendale, Otto Road, which also runs adjacent to railroad tracks, has not seen an increase in vermin, said Vincent Arcuri, chair of Community Board 5, adding that the area has actually had fewer raccoons than in years past, which he attributed to the unseasonable weather in the area.