Pan Am and Westway emergency shelters may become permanent
by Andrew Shilling
Nov 05, 2014 | 12999 views | 0 0 comments | 177 177 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Pan American Hotel on Queens Boulevard, converted to a temporary homeless shelter earlier this year, may soon become a permanent facility.
The Pan American Hotel on Queens Boulevard, converted to a temporary homeless shelter earlier this year, may soon become a permanent facility.
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Two homeless shelters in western Queens, originally pushed through as temporary emergency facilities to combat a growing homelessness crisis in the city, may soon become permanent fixtures.

Both the Pan American Hotel at 79-00 Queens Blvd. and Westway Motor Inn at 71-11 Astoria Blvd. were re-opened as shelters in an expedited process to meet the borough’s “fair share” of housing facilities for the homeless residents.

The city’s homeless population has skyrocketed to nearly 57,000 — a 40 percent increase over the past four years

As of December 5, the emergency contract at the Pan American Hotel site will have met its required six-month time period before the agency can work with the provider to seek a “long-term contract for the shelter,” according to a source at DHS.

“To continue to meet our moral and legal obligation to shelter families with children, all shelters that have opened under the emergency declaration will have to undergo a procurement process,” said the DHS spokesperson.

The Westway, located on the border of East Elmhurst and Astoria, re-opened as a shelter in July, so would not hit the six-month deadline until sometime in January.

The city’s procurement process requires that the city conduct a public hearing and provide adequate notice of the hearing’s date.

Community Board 4 district manager Christian Cassognol said he received a notice from DHS last week that a public hearing on the Pan Am shelter would take place. However, information regarding the purpose of the meeting was limited.

“DHS was contacted sometime last week to provide us with a little bit more information in the form of a ‘formal notice,’” Cassagnol said. “We're not sure that our residents understand just what the purpose of this meeting actually is.”

Cassagnol sent a letter to DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor in disgust of the lack of notification for the upcoming hearing — scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 13 at 125 Worth St. in Manhattan, as well as the overall shelter rollout.

“Note that we are not against the housing of the homeless, as we understand our citizens’ legal rights,” he wrote in the letter last Thursday, Oct. 29. “What we are against is the process which condones negligence, and a ‘we will to do it whether you like it or not’ attitude that has been so blatantly expressed by the agency.”

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