May 11, 2018 By Christian Murray and Nathaly Pesantez
The City View Inn in Blissville will once again house homeless families with children, the city announced today.
The Department of Homeless Services said the hotel at 33-17 Greenpoint Ave., which is currently housing single adult men, will transition back to temporarily providing shelter for families with children before the school year in September. The specific date and time for the move is yet to be determined.
The DHS says the decision comes with trends the agency sees in the summer months, when more families with children seek shelter due to the school year wrapping up.
The single adult men currently at the shelter, the DHS says, will be transferred to other shelter locations. The agency is expecting several high-quality, permanent shelters to open around the city in the coming months, which will provide capacity to shelter the men at the City View Inn and others.
“Nobody wants to see families with children or single adults without a roof over their heads on the street, and every night we have a legal obligation to provide shelter,” said Steven Banks, Department of Social Services Commissioner.
The City View Inn began sheltering 54 families with children in July 2017, but abruptly switched to housing over 100 single adult men in January. The DHS was met with much criticism at the time due to its handling of the move, where families at the shelter were seemingly notified hours before of the news. The agency has since publicly apologized for the miscommunication.
The news comes at a time when tensions are running high in Blissville due to a permanent shelter opening at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. The shelter, the third in the area next to the temporary Best Western and City View Inn sites, is expected to receive up to 154 homeless adult families.
Many Blissville residents say the demeanor of the area has changed in the months since the DHS began providing shelter for the homeless in the two hotels. Some, however, say the change was especially noticeable when the City View Inn began sheltering adult men in January.
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said the DHS’s decision is a sign of progress, but needs to go further.
“This is an acknowledgement by the administration that having so many homeless adults in a small community is a mistake,” Van Bramer said. “Three homeless shelters in a small area is a burden and unfair to Blissville.”
He added that the Blissville Civic Association (BSA), a new group that formed in response to the number of shelters in the area, should continue to make their voices heard by the city. The group has a protest scheduled at Gracie Mansion on Monday, to be attended by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, followed by a protest at City Hall on Tuesday, which Van Bramer will attend.
Maria Davis, Vice President of the BSA, said she doesn’t necessarily feel heard by the city with its decision.
“This industrial location at the end of the day is not good for homeless families, homeless individuals, and the most vulnerable,” Davis said. “They need housing. They don’t need to be put in a hotel.”
She says that the city is continuing to re-traumatize families, and has shown “more apathy” in their newest move, adding that three shelters is still too many for one remote area.
“We care enough to say this is not the solution,” Davis said. “They’re playing games with people’s lives.”
The two temporary shelters, including the City View Inn, are expected to begin being phased out in 2021.
Update: The Blissville Civic Association, along with Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, will protest outside of City Hall at noon on May 15.