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Stringer rejects permanent contract for Pan Am shelter

Elmhurst residents protest conditions at the Pan Am shelter before City Comptroller Scott Stringer rejects a permanent contract at the facility yet again.
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For the second time in two months, City Comptroller Scott Stringer has rejected the Department of Homeless Service’s proposed five-year, $42 million contract with service provider Samaritan Village that would convert the former Pan American hotel into a permanent shelter for homeless families.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined other elected officials and members of the Elmhurst United civic association outside the facility to protest quality-of-life issues at the shelter, located at 79-00 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst.

Two day later Stringer announced the rejection of the contract.

“The Department of Homeless Services has not yet provided sufficient documentation to show that the Pan American Hotel facility is safe, and that all outstanding violations and complaints have been corrected,” he said. “As a result I have sent the contract back to allow the agency additional time to address the outstanding issues we identified.”

Avella applauded the comptroller’s decision to reject what he called a “disgraceful” contract.

“Today the voices of homeless families and the community as a whole have been heard,” he said.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) urged the city to phase out the Pan Am shelter altogether and find suitable housing for the residents.

“The Pan Am facility is not safely serving the families being housed at that shelter,” she said. “Over the course of the last year, numerous incidents with rodents, leaking pipes, insufficient cooking and food storage facilities, and even a small fire, have demonstrated that this site is simply ill-equipped for use as a shelter for hundreds of people. DHS should use this time to search for other sites around the city as well as more permanent housing for families,”

DHS maintains it has taken steps to address all violations and provided the additional documentation requested after the first rejection in May.

“We have satisfied all substantive questions raised by the comptroller’s office, and we are disappointed that this decision will essentially deny payment to a shelter serving 197 vulnerable families, including 321 children,” a spokeswoman said. “The city’s Department of Investigation specifically recommended contracting providers in order to increase accountability, to ensure appropriate resources for critical social services, and to continues building well-maintained and violation-free facilities. The city has a legal and moral obligation to provide shelter, and we must preserve our existing facilities to meet that mandate. We will continue to appeal to the comptroller’s office about the importance of bringing this site into contract.”

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) believes Stringer made the “right call” in rejecting the permanent contract.

“It is critical that we address the needs of the homeless in our city, but this site is not an appropriate location for a shelter,” Meng said. “The many problems and poor conditions do not serve the homeless well, and the blatant lack of transparency has been a total snub to the community. Hopefully, in the end, the contract for this facility will not be approved.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Updated 10:07 am, July 10, 2015
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Reader feedback

Joe from Queens says:
Good to know at least one person working for the city isn't brain dead.
July 9, 2015, 5:32 pm
Frank from from Kew Gardens says:
DHS got caught with its pants down again!! These people cannot read. they don't even know what a cooking facility is. This is embarassing!! Like Mayor deBozo, these people are lazy and incompetent. Gilbert Taylor should resign.
July 10, 2015, 12:08 pm
Ming from from from Rego Park says:
Apparantly, DHS can't do math either!! It took them only 3 years to learn that the Skyway homeless adult shelter is 920 square feet away from PS 124, which is illegal under state law. I see a trend. debozo and his idiots got to go before New York City becomes Detroit!!!

http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2015/28/sexshelter_2015_07_10_q.html
July 10, 2015, 12:34 pm
too late from queens says:
Too late to worry about being like a Detroit, without stop and frisk guns abound.
July 10, 2015, 12:52 pm
jo from ELmhurst says:
This Contract should never have even reached Comptroller Stringer as it is illegal. Does DHS think it is above the law? The place has no kitchens as required by New York State and City Law. right now it's nothing but a glorified SRO. The Pan Am building if falling apart and on its last legs. The previous owner neglected the site and eventually abandon the hotel business. DHS should be ashamed of itself. It is hiding behind the people they claim to help. How can they look anyone in the eye and say they are doing this all for them? At $3,700 per month per room, how can they say they are helping anyone. At this price, the homeless could live very well in any neighborhood, even Manhattan...and certainly with a kitchen, and it a building that is violation free.
July 10, 2015, 2:52 pm
MLee from Elmhurst says:
Stringer should launch an investigation on DHS and Samaritan Village. How can they charge so much for their service, and we get so little in return? Where does the money go?

Certainly not fixing the place. Certainly not on the food, and on child care.

It is just another poorly run bureaucracy that does nothing but suck the poor taxpayer and yield little in return.
July 10, 2015, 2:58 pm
Luz from Elmhurst says:
How can DHS talk about the city's "Moral" obligation? DHS is breaking the law to warehouse people in a facility they want to keep open for 5 to 9 years. DHS are creating a moral travesty of the future of any kids that are put into the Pan Am. Those children deserve better facilities than what is being offered to their families. The DHS is creating a long term problem for what they initially said was an "emergency" situation.
July 10, 2015, 3:04 pm
Pat from Right near the Pan Am says:
Who is running the Dept of Homeless??? The Mafia? They bully the neighborhood by sneaking in 200 homeless families in the dead of night, after lying that the Pan Am was not a viable site. They over- charge the taxpayer $3,700 to house each homeless family at a run down gloried SRO. They run a building that is falling apart and with scores of violations that they have no intention of fixing. They don't even show up for their schedule hearing. They lie to Stringer saying it's all fixed but little was done.

Enough is enough... Where are the watch dogs??? These people should all be put in jail.
July 10, 2015, 3:28 pm
WeiMing from from Elmhurst says:
If there are no violations then what the hell are the scaffolding in front of the building for??? To make the building look nicer???? I don't think so!

Here is the answer: They are there to protect the pedestrians as the freaking building is literally failling apart.

When will DHS and de Blasio stop lying??
#Taxpayers-money-matter
July 10, 2015, 3:30 pm
Dave from Elmhurst says:
Think about this...The Dept of Homeless have no intention of bringing down the homeless numbers. They have no incentive to do so. If they do, they'll all be out of a job.

If we have no homeless, we would not need a Dept of Homeless Services.
July 10, 2015, 3:31 pm

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