The article isn't 100% accurate, but it gives you an idea of why the city says it is withholding public documents from our attorneys. We know the real reason why... The hearing has been postponed until the end of May at the request of the city.
Queens residents upset that a local Holiday Inn Express has been transformed into a makeshift homeless shelter are accusing the city of running the motel illegally — and trying to hide the evidence.
Citizens for a Better Maspeth have sued the de Blasio administration demanding information about the 220-person shelter.
The group thinks Dept. of Building plans for the hotel abutting the Long Island Expressway will show codes prohibit people from staying there for over 30 days.
Shelter resident Steven Johnson told The Times last month that he’d been living there for nine months.
“The hotel is being used for an unlawful purpose in violation of its certificate of occupancy,” said their attorney, Daniel Schneider.
When members of the group tried to retrieve the plans from the Queens DOB office last year, they learned that all copies were missing, court papers claim.
A city rep told The Post that the plans could be viewed at the borough office.
Maspeth resident Dawn Scala filed a Freedom of Information request in August seeking demographics for the shelter residents, including employment information, last known addresses, reasons for their homelessness, drug use and length of stay.
“Back in 2014 the city gave similar records [for a Glendale shelter] over with no problem,” said Christina Wilkinson, a member of Citizens for a Better Maspeth.
But last year DHS officials said the information would not be released because it could compromise residents’ safety and invade their privacy.
“The documents requested here are either protected from disclosure or simply do not exist,” a DHS spokesman told The Post.
Wilkinson insists they’re not asking for names or other identifying information.
She added that the 2014 demographic documents identified only four families in the local Maspeth zip code as homeless.
“We’re trying to get data from the city that would show there really isn’t this huge need for a shelter in Maspeth itself,” Wilkinson said.
Mayor de Blasio defended his decision to make the Holiday Inn a shelter last year, citing statistics that closer to 250 people from the area are homeless.
The mayor’s new plan for reducing the city’s 60,000-person homeless population includes keeping people in their neighborhoods.
Maspeth resident Robert Holden said the residents are strangers who are “let loose on a middle class, a working class neighborhood with literally no services” including limited public transportation.
The inn was converted into a shelter last year. The mayor planned to make the conversion permanent but backed down after area residents showed up at the Dept. of Homeless Services Brooklyn home to protest the plan.
While de Blasio has said he wants to eliminate the housing of homeless people in motels—he’s admitted that the new policy won’t take effect until 2023.
A Queens Supreme Court judge is scheduled to hear argument about the issue later this month.