There is no shelter from their ire.
More than 200 Sunset Parkers and even some Queens residents marched along Fourth Avenue on Oct. 15 to demand the city stop converting hotels into homeless shelters. The Department of Homeless services is quietly filling numerous neighborhood inns with the indigent, and locals are fed-up with lack of transparency, said one community activist.
“We’re not protesting the homeless — we’re against the city’s policy of warehousing these individuals into hotels without any community notification,” said Delvis Valdes, a director with activist group The Village of Sunset Park. “It’s not good for the people in the hotels and it’s not good for the neighborhoods. It benefits no one.”
Protesters gathered on 24th Street and Fourth Avenue near the would-be Howard Johnson Hotel that officials converted into a family shelter in August and then snaked across the neighborhood to another site on 26th Street near Fourth Avenue and then to the infamous hotel-turned-mens’-shelter on 49th Street between Second and Third avenues.
The crowd was a mix of Sunset Park community groups and folks from the hinterlands of Queens who have been fighting their own shelter battle, said Valdes.
“We saw what they were going through and told them we’re having the same issue,” said Valdes. “This is a five-borough problem, and we need a five-borough solution. We have to come together on this until the mayor takes notice and things are done differently.”
Visitors to the neighborhood were shocked at how densely pack it is with homeless refuges — and it seems clear Sunset Park is bearing more than its fair share, one outsider said.
“I couldn’t believe how many are in Brooklyn in such a small area,” said Queens resident Ben Geremia. “It’s not fair to the communities, and the homeless aren’t getting what they deserve.”