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One-year-old girl found dead at the Quality Inn, hotel now a shelter


March 31, 2017 Staff Report

A 1-year-old girl died Friday morning at the Quality Inn at 53-05 Queens Boulevard.

Police responded to a 911 call just before noon and discovered 1-year-old Kimio Williams unconscious and unresponsive.

EMS took the baby to Elmhurst Hospital where she was pronounced death.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who has been briefed on the incident, said the baby’s father called 911 when he realized his child was in distress. He said the medical examiner, who is conducting an autopsy, has found no indication of criminality, such as bruises. The baby had been sick with flu-like symptoms prior to her death. Officials are still awaiting toxicology results.

There have been no arrests.

The Quality Inn has been a homeless shelter since last summer. According to Van Bramer, the family had moved to the shelter just two days prior to the baby’s death.

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45 Comments

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Anonymous

City pays $225.00 a night for the homeless and a regular customer pays $148.00 a night —

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Anonymous

on Thursday April 27, 2017 at approximately 10:00 pm two more homeless families were moved in here in the night — all with plastic bags — not good –

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Kwon lee

You people here are so f.o.s. act like you really care, phony people in sunnyside, all gossip people too! Get lives you morons

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Anonymous

this is from the Ink, NYC – October 10, 2016 — A temporary shelter at the Quality Inn in Woodside has pitted residents against the Department of Homeless Services. (The Ink/Gabriela Bhaskar)
Karina Karakash was used to seeing buses drop off tourists at the Quality Inn near her auto repair shop in Woodside. Then one night in June, a school bus pulled up. The passengers looked different from the Inn’s usual Asian and European guests. They were mostly black and Latina women with children. When more arrived a few nights later, a friend tipped Karakash off. “You realize there’s a homeless shelter there, right?” he told her.

Karakash was not the only local surprised by the news. City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Queens Community Board 2 only learned about the temporary shelter for women and children on 53-05 Queens Boulevard when a furious constituent called Van Bramer’s office in July.

The Quality Inn is part of a well-documented trend of housing 6,000 of the city’s homeless in hotels. Many of these temporary shelters have sprung up in working-class neighborhoods in Queens. But Woodside residents and leaders say the quick fix lacks community input and threatens to lower their quality of life without addressing the root cause of homelessness.

“I am extremely upset that the administration converted this hotel into a temporary shelter without notifying anyone in the community,” said Van Bramer in an official email statement. “In situations like this, the best policy is transparency—not trying to sneak changes past local communities.”

The Department of Homeless Services has a legal obligation to house the city’s homeless, but it must follow the city’s “fair share” policy and gather community input when seeking sites for permanent shelters. However, hotels serving as emergency shelters are not considered long-term facilities. Informing local officials and residents is “a courtesy, not a requirement,” according to a comptroller’s report on the issue.

“This has just been thrust upon us,” said Paul Salow, who lives with his wife and infant across from the Quality Inn. At a Community Board 2 meeting in Sunnyside in September, Salow called himself “liberal-minded” but recounted with exasperation the times since early August he has confronted shelter residents and security guards about loitering, marijuana use and noise.

On Sept. 1, Salow walked out his front door and found graffiti scrawled over the wall of his front stoop. Payback for complaining, he said he thought.

On Sept. 11, after attending the community board meeting, he finally called the cops with a noise complaint. The next day, someone threw a brick into his neighbor’s yard. At his insistence, 108th precinct officers arrived the next week to investigate.

“There are obviously a few bad apples who are ruining it for the families residing in the hotel who are upstanding citizens and are trying to do the right thing,” Salow wrote in a letter to Van Bramer.

But the “right thing” is elusive for a homeless family given the ever-rising cost of living in New York City. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, the number of homeless people in the city, which reached 60,000 in July, has jumped 87 percent in the last decade. Evictions and lack of access to affordable housing are some of the most common catalysts for homelessness.

Joe Conley, a member of Queens Community Board 2, called the use of hotels “a short-term solution. People will be shuffled from one place to the other. . . . The affordable housing that the mayor is talking about – those are people with income,” he said in an interview. “The people that are homeless, without income, that’s what’s not being addressed.”

Conley said the only winners in this arrangement are the hotel owners. Hotels rent out rooms to the city per diem, usually without a contract or a discount. Staff at the Quality Inn said the daily charges for shelter rooms on the bottom two floors run between $120-200 per room. The rest are rented out to tourists as usual, none of whom were aware of the hotel’s controversy when interviewed.

Lauren Gray, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services, said the city has no plans to convert the Quality Inn into a permanent homeless shelter. Another department employee told Denise Keehan-Smith, chairwoman of Community Board 2, that the typical time limit for this category of shelter is nine months. Kaushik Patel, the owner of the Quality Inn, declined to comment.

“I wish we could have the same protest as they had in Maspeth,” said Salow, referring to the recent angry protests and lawsuit against a hotel-to-shelter conversion there. But Van Bramer has said repeatedly that he will not protest shelters for women and children despite his frustration.

Keehan-Smith said the issues at the Quality Inn – which has 36 families, 40 percent with children under four years old – are different from those at the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth, where until recently 200 families were living with adult children. Still, Community Board 2 is in talks with the Department of Homeless Services, and Board member Conley said that they haven’t ruled out legal action.

In the weeks since Salow called the police, the Quality Inn has been mostly quiet. Teens leave before seven in the morning for their long commute to school. Two case managers are on site weekdays, and a nonprofit arrives daily with food deliveries. Karakash and Salow suspect that the nighttime disturbances died down in response to their complaints.

One homeless resident, who did not want to go on the record because she fears retribution from the shelter system, said she thinks that the recent uproar about hotel-to-shelter conversions misses the point. As she nervously eyed the cameras above the hotel’s entrance, she explained that she ended up at the Quality Inn because her former landlord suddenly decided to sell the apartment she had been renting.

If residents of Woodside are going to get angry about something, she said, it should be about the crisis in affordable housing.

On Sept. 29, the Department of Homeless Services reiterated the city’s plan to “phase out” the use of hotels as shelters and focus on longterm housing solutions, but it did not provide a timeline.

“I will believe it when I see it,” said Salow in an email.

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Have a heart people

Thus far it appears irrelevant to this story that the family was living in a homeless shelter. Would you all prefer that this child died in the street? I’m sure if this family had better options they would have taken them. Sad story.

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Anonymous

Hey everyone. I know how to stop gentrification. Make people aware of what hateful, bigoted, ignorant filth pollutes this neighborhood. People with good jobs and education (known as hipsters here) will stay far away.

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Anonymous

What do you think ? Do you really think anyone who has the resources is going to pay to stay in a homeless shelter. Oh i forgot, angela is waiting for the easter bunny.

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Sunnysider

Anonymous- You need to get out more. We have met numerous people in copper kettle and side tracks who were staying in this hotel. They’re mostly young adults. Most of the rooms are regular retail hotel rentals I’m not sure of how many rooms are being set aside for the city’s shelter system but it is not every room. Angela is right, get some class.

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Disgusted!

How terrible. The poor child. The Post said the father found the child when he woke up. We were told only mothers and children were being housed in this hotel. Something has to be done. Think everyone who votes has to re think who to vote for in the next election. We are being lied to, Things are out of control!!

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Anonymous

if this is true only mothers and children why are father’s in there also — this is something JVB should be telling his constitutents about but he is not – something is not right — still my tears go out to this poor little angel

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Angela

Did the post say the family was in the homeless system? This article didn’t clarify this status. If the answer is yes then somebody needs to be held responsible for betraying the public trust yet again regarding this hotel.

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Bruno

Anonymous- Maybe no press conference has been held because all the facts are not in yet. Wow you sure are an idiot. Is that why you post anonymously?

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Anonymous

whether there are facts that are in or not – the mayor should have held a press conference on this — this is his job believe it or not and I am not an idiot show some class – this is nothing to throw under the rug –

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Bruno

Anonymous- Yeah call a press conference for every death in the city even the deaths of infants as awful as it might be is utterly ridiculous. Grow up fool. Oh and I have plenty of class unlike the sense of pragmatism you’re missing you fool. Children and infants die every day you naive blowhard.

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Anonymous

it is very very sad for this poor little angel but we find it rather odd that the original post that was posted on the sunnyside post about this tragedy never once mentioned JVB’s name or him knowing about anything at all — now all of a sudden it has been changed –

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Barbara

I hate to say this but this poor child might be better off. Look what kind of life the kid was born into.

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Barbara

-Barbara did not post the above post. Right wing trump loving fool who posts under the handles Rocky, oil beef hook, lucky7 etc etc. That post is just another example of the hatred that lies within the hearts of the right wing. Please tie your comments to Facebook to prevent this type of hijacking.

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amit chitre

Whats up with these commenters… There wasnt any criminal activity involved. She died of natural causes. Just happened to be in the same hotel as the homeless people. Why is everyone so worked up?

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johnny

Listen Clown, Who puts homeless people in Hotel’s ?
How many children have died in this City under Di Blasio’s watch?
Its people like you who are Aiding and Abetting this clueless regime,
You clown’s live in a fantasy world, Always taking the easy way out.

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Bruno

johnny- The man asked for your solution. How about providing an idea or two instead of dancing around and dodging a simple question. and hurling insults. You sure do meet the definition of a blowhard. You sure do have nerve calling anyone a clown.

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Angela

@johnny: Way to go in politicizing the death of an innocent and defenseles infant. You’re the one who should be ashamed of yourself. What type of person are you? A Republican right? Show your friends and relatives what you are posting. Shame on you!

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johnny

Angela, No i am not a Republican, I am a Resident and Citizen of this Neighborhood, Two people have let this Hotel become a Homeless Shelter, The Mayor and the local Council Member, Nobody else, The deal was done behind the Community’s back, Typical gutless Politician’s , And everyone knows what you are Angela, It has been well documented.

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Angela

@johnny If you go back to my earlier posts on this blog you will see I am and was a vocal opponent to welfare hotels in this my neighborhood. I know better then to inject fiction into an article about the death of an infant, like you just did. The article did not say how the child passed away or even if the family involved are homeless occupants ( my guess would be they are)As I said show your posts in this comment stream to your friends and relatives. Get some class loser.

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Anonymous

Shame on them for what? Giving poor black people a place to live that’s a little to close to your dirty rent controlled rats nest. Racist jerk!

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Adorable Deplorable

Why is the city putting up the homeless in hotels at huge expense when so many unused government building could be modified and used at a fraction of the cost? Somebody is making a bundle off the homeless and it isn’t the taxpayer.

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Anonymous

Seriously. Adorable Deplorable made some pretty specific statements about cost, taxpayer expense, etc. I’m just wondering where he or she is getting this information. My guess is their own butt.

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no humanity

how awful for this child. this is terriblem
how are residents being notified these motels are now shelters?

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Johnny

Johnny- Typical Republican response…You’re just like crooked Trump….You have all the answers and everything is simple and easy, until it comes time to deliver your solution. Way to go in politicizing the death of an Inicocebt and defenseless child, blowhard.

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Johnny

Johnny : It’s ”you’re” (you are) too funny. Where did you go to school? For someone who thinks they know it all, you sure are stupid. Is that the reason you won’t answer a simple question like the one asked by Bruno?

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johnny

Johnny, Bruno and yourself have quite the relationship, Two Knobs Together.
A simple question ? hahaha, Only a Simpleton would ask such a question.

Bruno

-johnny Stupid low IQ johnny can’t and won’t provide a single answer to the questions he claims to have the answers to. Instead he will continue his song and dance of insults and avoidance. Blowhard!!!

rikki

Whats the problem? If you rented to people who pay their own way this wouldn’t have happened

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