An industrial enclave of a hip neighborhood in Queens, New York, will serve as the latest site for a homeless shelter in an area already festooned with temporary housing.
A Fairfield Inn hotel at 52-34 Van Dam Street in the Blissville section of Long Island City will be converted into temporary housing for 154 homeless adult families, the third such site to sprout up in the area since 2017, according to the New York City Department of Homeless Services and news reports. The new facility is expected to open its doors to temporary residents as early as May in an enclave of Long Island City that’s home to fewer than 500 tight-knit homeowners and renters, according to news reports.
“Homeless New Yorkers come from every community across the five boroughs, so we need every community to come together to address homelessness,” said DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn in a prepared statement to Inman News on Friday. “As we implement our borough-based approach, we will be ending the use of all cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities citywide, including the three commercial hotels in this community district.
“This high-quality facility will be the first of its kind in this Community District, offering 154 adult families from Queens the opportunity to be sheltered in their home borough, closer to their support networks and communities they called home as they get back on their feet,” he added.
A shelter two blocks away from the proposed Fairfield Inn facility that once housed homeless families opened its doors last month to 100 homeless single men at the converted City View Inn and a Best Western Hotel on the border of the Sunnyside section of Queens serves approximately 60 families with young children, according to McGinn and nearby residents. With the new shelter expected to open in late spring, Blissville could soon be home to no fewer than 300 homeless individuals in the coming months.
Erika Clooney, the owner of the Bantry Bay Publick House, a bar on Greenpoint Avenue that has operated under different names and owners for nearly a century, attended a standing-room-only public hearing Thursday night at a nearby church, and said as many as 200 people packed into the meeting.
“Three doors down from me I have a homeless shelter, and just a skip over [Interstate] 495 there’s another shelter, so they’re all within a five-block radius and there’s another on Queens Boulevard in the Quality Inn, so there’s three in this little pocket already,” Clooney told Inman News on Friday.
“Listen, we’re all very compassionate here,” added Clooney, who said that safety is a major concern for residents but, so too, home values. “Let’s be honest, this is New York City. If I went three weeks without a paycheck in New York City I could easily succumb to being in that position myself, so it’s not an empathy thing here because we have the utmost empathy for all homeless individuals. We’re doing our fair share with the current shelters that are already in place. We as a community are taking that on. We get that as a community we need to take on the burden of housing the homeless, but to be putting a third in our community is crazy.”
Email Jotham Sederstrom