‘Phony’ hotels actually homeless shelters in Brooklyn?
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
More than 200 homeless people are currently being housed by the city in hotels in Sunset Park, a situation Assemblymember Felix Ortiz says is causing a “homeless housing crowding crisis” in his Brooklyn district.
According to a report released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer earlier this month, the number of homeless New Yorkers living in commercial hotels has spiked an unsustainable 669 percent since November 2015.
Ten percent of this hotel-sheltered homeless population is being funneled into Sunset Park hotels, Ortiz says. On Friday, Ortiz sent a letter to NYC Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks calling for him to act immediately to put a stop to it.
“That number is too high and should be rectified immediately,” Ortiz wrote. “Alternate housing sites should be located and new residences determined.”
Ortiz said he’s worried about the safety of Sunset Park residents.
“The safety of my constituents is paramount. They should not have to bear an inordinate number of homeless people in our community,” he wrote. “Using temporary shelters and hotels in Sunset Park to the extent they are now is blatantly unfair.”
According to the activist group Village of Sunset Park and other civic organizations, a number of “phony” hotels have appeared in the neighborhood which are in reality homeless shelters.
One of these, at 235 24th St., is listed as a “transient hotel” on the city’s Department of Buildings website.
According to The Brooklyn Ink, the shelter issued a letter in October saying it is in the process of becoming a nationally franchised hotel. The letter reads, in part:
“As we await the approval by our franchisor, we have been contacted by a Queens based non-profit, Children’s Community Services, to rent our facility. We do not have a contract with CCS and can remove them at any time. Part of our agreement with CCS is that all occupants have to respect the hotel and the neighborhood at all times. This includes rules placed on occupants against loitering etc.”
The NYC Department of Homeless Services said roughly 60,000 New Yorkers were being sheltered by the city on Thurs., Dec. 22. A report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, however, estimated that there are 73,523 homeless people in New York City. That’s roughly equal to the population of the city of Kalamozoo, Michigan, home of the Gibson Guitar Corporation, or Mountain View, California, home of Google.
According to the Coalition for the Homeless, homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
In hope of stemming the homeless tidal wave, Public Advocate Letitia James and several city councilmembers in November backed a bill sponsored by Queens Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi to increase the state’s rental assistance subsidies.