October 3, By Tara Law
The Department of Homeless Services is housing homeless men in a Kew Gardens hotel, the agency has confirmed.
The men began moving in on Sept. 30 and are currently occupying 19 rooms at the Comfort Inn, located across the street from borough hall at 124-18 Queens Blvd. DHS has set aside 42 rooms.
DHS did not notify community leaders and elected officials about the shelter until Saturday, the day the men moved in. The DHS also provided no notice to community leaders in Long Island City last Tuesday when it moved families into a Best Western on Hunters Point Avenue on the same day.
DHS is currently looking to house at least 300 people in the Community District 9 zone that includes Kew Gardens, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill, according to Isaac McGinn, a spokesperson for DHS.
There are no traditional homeless shelters in CD 9, although there are currently 333 homeless people in shelters in the city who are from the district.
The department aims to house the homeless in the communities where they are from, according to McGinn. The goal, he said, is to give the homeless “the opportunity to be sheltered closer to their support networks, including schools, medical care, and family as they get back on their feet.”
Hotels in Queens are often used as housing for the homeless. More Queens hotels are used to house the homeless than hotels in any other borough, although there are more traditional shelters in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.
The city is currently working to phase out the use of hotels as shelters for the homeless. In February, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan to expand existing shelters and to open 90 new facilities across the city over five years.