The decision by the Department of Homeless Services to move 36 homeless families into the Pan American Hotel at 79-00 Queens Boulevard – with close to 200 more to potentially follow - caught local Elmhurst residents and politicians by surprise last week, despite the city’s assertion that it properly notified the community.
Councilman Daniel Dromm told this newspaper that he was unaware of the plan to move several families into the Pan Am until the move was already in progress. While the city may be able to argue notifying the community board fell through the bureaucratic cracks, certainly a city councilman should be in the loop on these issues.
Already, the Metro Hotel Homeless Shelter is located just one block away from the Pan Am, and Dromm fears that moving in over 200 homeless families into the Pan Am is going to overburden his district. And rightfully so.
Truth be told, it is understandable that any homeless shelter is going to be controversial, since really, no one wants a shelter near their home – look to Glendale and the Samaritan Village if you don’t believe us - but the city and Pan Am are doing themselves a disservice by being secretive about the decision to house more homeless families in Elmhurst.
If the current situation is any indicator of Pan Am’s overall M.O. moving forward, then things don’t bode well for Elmhurst residents and immediate neighbors of the shelter.