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Ralliers protest plan for homeless shelter near JFK

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About 150 southeast Queens residents and elected officials came out last week to protest a judge’s decision to allow a bankrupt hotel near Kennedy Airport to open as a homeless shelter for families.

The rally was held July 3 outside the 335-room Best Western Carlton House hotel, at 138-10 135th Ave., less than a week after a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the proposal. The decision gave JFK Acquisition Group, the hotel’s owner, the right to negotiate a temporary lease agreement with the Salvation Army to convert the hotel into a shelter.

The contract would enable the facility to operate until Sept. 30.

The Salvation Army would then lease the shelter to the city’s Department of Homeless Services, said Jim Anderson, a spokesman for the city agency.

“It’s a done deal,” said City Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica), who was among the officials at the rally. The city signed a contract with the city. The judge granted them the right.”

Area politicians and residents are concerned that the shelter could have a negative impact on the community’s economy and schools, and say that the area is already saturated with homeless shelters.

Community Board 12, which stretches from downtown Jamaica to the airport, encompasses 12 homeless shelters housing more than 950 families. These include the Saratoga Interfaith Inn, the largest Tier II shelter in the city housing almost 250 families, which is just two miles away.

The community may file a lawsuit against the city to block the shelter, saying the city bypassed the community when they made the agreement with the Salvation Army and the hotel’s owners, Jennings said.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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