CB5 creates special homeless committee to address shelters


Community Board 5 has already voted against the now-defunct plan to convert the Holiday Inn Express into a homeless shelter. They already passed a resolution with several recommendations to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), including renovating existing vacant buildings and fixing up more public housing apartments.

But tonight at their October meeting, CB5 members took their involvement in the shelter issue a step further by creating a special homeless committee to better understand the issue, the people affected and the services offered.

The committee will be led by board member Dmytro Fedkowskyj.

“Nothing is going to change unless change takes place in the Department of Homeless Services,” Fedkowskyj said. “The lack of transparency about placement is damaging to the cause and needs to change.”

He added that makeshift shelters are not the solution, and that it’s more of a Band-Aid approach.

Fedkowskyj said the committee will work with all elected officials on the situation. The committee will also examine the options homeless people have when it comes to shelters and the services they are given.

It will also see how local communities are impacted by the issue.

They plan to meet during the first week of November, and are hoping to have a guest speaker from Breaking Ground, a nonprofit organization that helps place homeless people from the streets into shelters.

Assault at Good Fellas Diner


An assault at Maspeth’s Good Fellas Diner two weeks ago left several employees injured.

Police say that on the morning of Saturday, October 1, two men ate at Good Fellas, located at 56-26 Maspeth Avenue, and refused to pay their breakfast bill.

When a 70-year-old employee tried to prevent them from leaving, one of the two suspects punched the employee in the face.

The suspects then got into their car, and another 67-year-old employee tried to write down the license plate. The other suspect snatched the writing pad from her hand and threw her to the ground.

The employee suffered a broken arm and a dislocated shoulder from the incident. She was taken to the hospital in serious but stable condition.

The suspects left the scene in the car heading toward Rust Street.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM.


City drops plan for full Maspeth shelter for now


As word got out that the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) moved in 30 homeless men into the Holiday Inn Express on Monday, city officials seemed to indicate that the ongoing nightly protests have worked so far.

“Due to local opposition to housing homeless New Yorkers, we have not been able to convert this site into a full shelter at this time,” said DHS spokeswoman Lauren Gray.

The key phrase is “at this time.” DHS Commissioner Steven Banks said at City Hall yesterday that the city has not given up trying to house homeless people in Maspeth. The only reason why they were unsuccessful was because the “property owner would not permit us to go forward with our full plan to use the full building.”

But the owner of the Holiday Inn, Harshad Patel, only caved after the nightly protests hurt his business enough for him to pull the plug. As the demonstrations continue into the fall and winter seasons, protesters said they’re not giving up, and they sure don’t believe the city’s word.

“This mayor really underestimated Maspeth,” said Robert Holden, president of Juniper Park Civic Association. “We’re going to be out here with larger forces every single night.”

Banks later said at that press conference that “the city will not back down.” That means if Patel suddenly changes his mind and decides to go through with the plan again, the city will welcome him and his hotel with open arms.

Skeptical protesters are already alert and ready in case that ever happens.

Read more about the city’s move and protesters’ response here.

Pols take mayor to task for shelters


As Maspeth’s battle against the conversion of the Holiday Inn Express into a homeless shelter continues, elected officials throughout Queens are taking the fight straight to the mayor’s doorsteps.

Four Queens lawmakers – Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, State Senator Joseph Addabbo, State Senator Jose Peralta and Councilman Barry Grodenchik – demanded solutions from Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Homeless Services, rather than warehousing homeless people in hotels.

Citing the record-high 60,000 homeless population, Crowley said the mayor’s policies have simply not worked.

This is a clear example of how the de Blasio administration does not know what they’re doing,” Crowley said. “It’s clear, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.”

Addabbo claimed the de Blasio administration hasn’t listened to his or the community’s suggestions. He emphasized that the city should have approached the community to solicit input, rather than “dictating” the hotel’s conversion.

This all could’ve been avoided if early on, the administration worked with us and our communities on this growing crisis,” he said.

State Senator Peralta was upset that DHS was placing homeless families in a Holiday Inn in Corona without notifying elected officials. Councilman Barry Grodenchik had a similar problem in Bellerose. In both situations, the elected officials claimed they heard about the  homeless living in hotels through constituents, rather than city officials.

Peralta said after what happened at the Westway Inn, where he said DHS officials weren’t forthcoming about a shelter conversion, he doesn’t trust DHS anymore.

Lying is in the DNA of DHS,” he said. “That is what happens on a daily basis.”

The officials touted potential solutions to the homeless crisis, including a proposal presented by Queens Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi that would invest $500 million in rent subsidizes to keep people in their homes. Another idea brought up was taking vacant lots in the city and building modular housing on them for the homeless.

But the ideas have simply fallen on deaf ears, officials said.

We are here to offer assistance, but we can’t have an administration that doesn’t listen,” Addabbo said.

Police looking for suspected deli robber

2772-16-104-pct-robbery-9-29-16-photoThe NYPD 104th Precinct is looking into the whereabouts of a man they say is wanted in connection with a robbery at a Maspeth deli on Thursday, September 29.

According to police, at approximately 12:35 a.m., the suspect entered Grand Deli at 66-10 Grand Avenue, approached the 34-year-old male employee, displayed a handgun and demanded cash from the register. When the victim refused, police said, the individual took $150 from the register and subsequently fled the store.

Police describe the suspect as a white male, approximately 20-years-old, 6’1″ to 6’2″ and last seen wearing a blue hooded sweater, light blue jeans and black sneakers.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Martin Luther School Harvest Festival & Open House is this Saturday (10/1)


You don’t want to miss MLS’s Harvest Festival & Open House this year!

This Saturday from 12PM-4PM, enjoy bounce houses, crafts, food, games, face painting, science demos are free for all attendees of MLS’s Harvest Festival & Open House.

Have a look around Martin Luther, meet faculty and staff, and see why Martin Luther’s Middle School & High School have been a staple in the Maspeth community for decades.

Also, receive a tuition credit voucher when you take a tour!

There will also bee a free basketball clinic for boys & girls of all ages. The clinic will be run by Martin Luther Varsity Basketball Coach, John Sanchez, and a few of his varsity student-athletes. Basic fundamentals, contests, giveaways, and fun for all ages!

A Few MLS Facts:
The student body contains around 250 students each year.
Last year, 99% of seniors graduated and were accepted into college.
Percent of Students Receive Financial Aid: 60%
Student to Teacher Ratio 12:1
MLS has partnered with two local, nationally accredited colleges, Concordia College NY, and St. Joseph’s College, to offer courses for students to earn concurrent High School/College credit. Upon graduation at Martin Luther, students will have had the
opportunity to earn up to 36 transferrable credits.
Martin Luther School is located at 60-02 Maspeth Ave. Maspeth, New York 11378. They can be reached at 718-894-4000.