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Maspeth protests grow angrier after city places homeless in hotel

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One day after blaming “local opposition” for its decision to shelve plans to convert the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express into a full shelter for the homeless, the de Blasio administration has changed the narrative. Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks, who oversees the Department of Homeless Services, said this week hotel owner Harshad Patel dictated the new direction.

“The owner of the Maspeth Holiday Inn refused to allow the city to convert the hotel into a shelter,” Banks said. “Instead, the hotel owner agreed to rent rooms to keep homeless New Yorkers off the street, and the city has done so. Our first priority remains the safety and well-being of those DHS serves. We will continue to implement the plan to have shelters in every borough so that New Yorkers seeking shelter can stay in their borough, near schools, jobs, family and their community.”

DHS moved 30 employed homeless men into the hotel Monday afternoon. Hours later the protesters, known as the Maspeth-Middle Village Task Force, rallied out front, something they have done each weeknight for two months.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to “happily stare them down” after they rented buses and traveled to Bellerose, Rosedale and Brooklyn where they protested at Banks’ home. On Tuesday, de Blasio tried to dispel the notion that the protesters won.

“The Maspeth Holiday Inn will continue to provide temporary housing for working adults,” de Blasio said. “This is a citywide problem and we need a citywide solution. We didn’t back down on sheltering homeless New Yorkers in Maspeth and we won’t in other communities. We have a citywide moral and legal responsibility to shelter homeless New Yorkers.”

Meanwhile, elected officials in eastern Queens announced Tuesday that DHS would comply with Patel’s wishes to no longer use hotels in Bellerose and Floral Park to shelter homeless individuals and families just two weeks after the Maspeth-Middle Village Task Force rallied there.

Monday night’s protest outside the Holiday Inn Express was double its usual size and after Tuesday’s comments by the mayor and Banks the demonstration tripled in size, according to Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden.

“The city keeps coming up with new scenarios, so how can we trust anybody in this? The city changes its story by the day and it’s demonstrating their incompeten­ce,” he said. “The administration is really sticking it to Maspeth by sending in single men, that’s historically the worst population of any shelter. It’s not a coincidence that we’re getting men here.”

And Holden said he is expecting more are on the way in the coming weeks.

“You better believe once it gets colder that contract will arrive at the comptroller’s office for a full-blown shelter,” he said. “We’re getting angrier and people are beginning to discuss civil disobedience. We don’t trust anyone. Patel lied to us and the mayor’s office is even worse.”

Meanwhile, the Maspeth-Middle Village Task Force drew several hundred residents and raised over $13,500 at O’Neill’s pub in Maspeth last Saturday. The group will use the funds to rent buses to carry protesters to shelters around the city.

“We’re in contact with 24 community associations right now,” Holden said. “On Saturday we’ll rally at the Maspeth Holiday Inn for an hour and then board buses for Sunset Park in Brooklyn, where there are 10 shelters, and we’re still working on details for a massive demonstration with these other groups at City Hall.”

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

Posted 12:00 am, October 14, 2016
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Reader feedback

Dominick from queens says:
I'd surely like to know what those 'angry' Maspeth protesters/mobs have done as a group or individuals to contribute to the betterment of the nation. crickets.
Oct. 14, 2016, 5:21 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
So DOMINICK, living in a community with over 20 shelters and knowing first hand the problems associated with these shelters and the quality of life issues, I would say what the Maspeth protesters ARE contributing to the betterment of their community.

AND what are you doing, taking in homeless men into your home?
Oct. 14, 2016, 5:36 am
Bill from Brooklyn says:
The real problem is all the idiots in city hall who think housing the homeless in hotel shelters for $4,800 per room per month is a GOOD IDEA. Out of sight out of mind no matter what the cost. The people who bad mouth Maspeth have no idea about the real world. It's the old democratic mentality of "I am for free speech as long as no one is afended by it". The same people who are bad mouthing queens are the same people that would be protesting if a shelter was going to open near them.
Oct. 14, 2016, 7:45 am
john from maspeth says:
The problem is transparency.The mayor and banks constantly lie.They say these individuals have jobs-a lie.worst then that
we are paying full price for the room.And the homeless are
required to leave at 9:00am and return at 5:00pm.What kind
of policy is this?Both Banks and DeBlasio should be taken out
in cuffs for what they are doing to these people.And who gets
rich.The hotel owner patel and the acacia homeless network.
No doubt to give big contribution to his reelection campaign.
ONE TERM MAYOR!!!!!!!!!!!
Oct. 14, 2016, 10:38 am

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