Maspeth Residents March to Hotel Owner's Home to Protest 'Warehousing' Homeless in their Neighborhood
Protesters marched to the home of a Queens hotel owner Saturday over plans to convert one of his properties in Maspeth into a homeless shelter. Borough reporter Ruschell Boone has the story.
After nearly six weeks of protesting a city plan to convert this Holiday Inn on 55th Road into a homeless shelter, these Maspeth residents are showing no signs of letting up.
Rolling by the busload, they took their fight to the street again. This time to Bellerose and Floral Park to the hotel owner, Harshad Patel.
"The shelter policies are wrong and it has got to stop."
More than 200 people protested in front of two of Patel's businesses. Hotels that were converted into homeless shelters. Dozens of Bellerose, Floral Park and Long Island residents also joined in when the group marched to his home.
"This group has been able to get a Holiday Inn to stop, but de Blasio is not going to allow it. He is digging in deep, but this isn't fair to the people here."
Along the way, there were some tense moments when a protester was punched by someone who had joined in the march. Some have accused the group of racism, but organizers say their fight is with the mayor and City Hall.
"He is creating the great divide and he kept on saying there is two cities," said Anthony Nunziato, Chairman of Maspeth Middle Village Task Force. "He forgot the third city, the middle class."
"This is not a racial issue because the homeless comes in all different colors and ethnicities," said Robert Holden with the Juniper Park Civic Association. "We will accept a small facility; we will accept one and two family homes, affordable houses."
A week ago the group also protested in front of the home of the head of the Human Resources Administration. On Saturday Steven Banks said the city wanted to protect the children who live at the shelters where the protest took place.
"At these particular locations there are 80 children involved and today we wanted to take them to the Children's Museum of Manhattan in order to make sure that they had an opportunity to get some assistance and not have to be subjected to a protest," said Steven Banks, the city's Human Resources Administration Commissioner.
Maspeth residents say they will continue to protest in front of the Holiday Inn Express, but they are also planning a protest at City Hall.