They’ve got serious reservations.
Sunset Parkers came out in force to Community Board 7’s Sept. 21 meeting concerned that the city is quietly turning area hotels into homeless shelters. Numerous buildings billed as inns for tourists are actually homes for the transient, but the city is not broadcasting that fact, and locals are fed-up with the lack of transparency, said one resident.
“It feels like a bait-and-switch situation where we were told there was going to be a hotel but it’s a shelter,” said 23rd Street resident Maya Visco, referring to a stalled hotel that is operating as a temporary family shelter on 24th Street between Third and Fourth avenues. “You know I’m a home owner, my kids go to school here. I’m in it for the long haul and I want to know what is going on here, and I feel there is a serious lack of transparency.”
Sunset Park only has one official homeless shelter — a controversial place for single men on 49th Street between Second and Third avenues. But the area is exploding with hotel development, and the Department of Homeless Services is actually renting rooms in five area inns without alerting locals, according to Community Board Seven district manager Jeremy Laufer.
“As they keep telling me, these are not shelters so they do not have to inform us when they are renting there,” he said.
Meantime quality of life is tanking on blocks near the shelters, another resident said.
“In the 28 years I have lived on my block, people were never behaving like this to the point where I feel threatened,” said Barbara Lee, who says she has suffered several sleepless nights due to people loudly congregating in front of the 24th Street hotel. “I never thought I’d be a nimby person — not in my back yard — but if somebody is not respecting my rights how can I respect theirs?”