2017-10-11 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

ANOTHER Hotel-Shelter

A copy of this letter was received at the offices
of the Queens Gazette.
October 5, 2017
Honorable Bill de Blasio
Mayor, City of New York
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mayor de Blasio:

My office was recently informed that your administration had placed yet another homeless shelter in my district, with no prior notice, and zero community input. Despite a litany of promises of greater accountability, including at least 30 days’ notice, and increased transparency in the process of siting these emergency shelters, this community finds itself once again blindsided with the last-minute announcement of yet another hotel conversion. While I am deeply sympathetic to the plight of homeless families in New York City, your administration has shown a sustained pattern of making promises that you have no intention of keeping regarding these shelters.

Last month, Commissioner Stephen Banks held a press conference outside my Jackson Heights office, announcing the closing of five hotel shelters in Queens, as well as the phasing out of hotel conversions by 2023. Since that announcement, 12 new hotel shelters have been opened across the city, and now another in my district. As I and other local elected representatives have repeatedly pointed out, the use of hotels as shelter sites is problematic for a variety of reasons. Not only are hotels inadequate for meeting homeless families’ day-to-day needs, the approach uproots them from their communities, schools and opportunities to get back on their feet. The prevalence of hotels surrounding our airports puts an uneven burden on communities in Queens that are already struggling to meet their own needs. Additionally, the use of hotels for sheltering saddles taxpayers with the exorbitant cost of putting homeless families and individuals up in subpar housing. These funds should instead be put toward a longterm solution that will provide homeless individuals and families with stability.

It is my sincere hope that you will attempt to provide some of the transparency and accountability that our communities were promised. The residents of Queens Community Board 2 deserve a full accounting of what the plans for this location are, who the service provider in charge is, and where they can route any safety concerns that may arise at this location. I would also ask that you arrange for a meeting in my office with the Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services so we can discuss their apparent indifference to the promises of community engagement and rectify this situation for the future. Sincerely,

Joe Crowley
Member of Congress, NY-14

Mobilize DOD To Aid PR,

A copy of this letter was received at the offices of the Queens Gazette. Dear President Trump:

On September 20, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands endured a direct impact from Hurricane Maria. With winds up to 160 mph, Hurricane Maria devastated these islands, caused significant power outages, destroyed telecommunications infrastructure, and thereby paralyzed the region. Given the impact of the damage and the population of 3.6 million American citizens affected, we are concerned that federal efforts to date have been insufficient to address the severity of the situation. We know there are DOD elements helping today, and all the service members involved are working very hard, but we are concerned that the scale of DOD assets supporting the operation are inadequate. Thus, we write to urge you to further mobilize the Department of Defense to immediately deploy additional assets in support of Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island recovery efforts.

As you know, the Department of Defense has additional capabilities that could help alleviate suffering in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and prevent this catastrophe from worsening. First and foremost, a senior general officer must be appointed to work with FEMA to manage a joint response assist with the recovery effort on the ground, and enable local constituencies to have a single point of contact. This was done in response to Hurricane Katrina, and we feel the same approach is warranted now for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

As we are sure you are aware, in both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, there are numerous municipalities that are inaccessible from the ground, which is where DOD engineer and aviation assets would be most helpful. With millions of U.S. citizens stranded in remote areas without basic necessities, engineers are needed first to clear the roads. Additional aviation assets are needed to get relief supplies to isolated locations. Additionally, substantial ground and air logistics support is required to get aid to the islands, rescue stranded citizens, and provide them with supplies and thereafter assist with the restoration of power and telecommunications infrastructure if needed. To fulfill DOD’s mission, we believe the aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, should be sent to the region, similar to its deployment to Miami following Hurricane Irma.

DHS has indicated it has “provided more than 1.5 million meals, 1.1 million liters of water, nearly 300 infant and toddler kits, and nearly 12,000 emergency roofing kits to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria’s landfall.” While these meals and resources are profoundly needed, unfortunately, there is a large portion of the population that has been underserved.

Lastly, DOD has critical resources that could assist with addressing security issues. We have heard reports that the ongoing supply shortages are causing looting and crime. We were recently informed of armed gangs ransacking a warehouse that distributes food and supplies. Defense Department personnel could provide essential support to local law enforcement in both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to ensure relief supplies are delivered to those most in need – and that those that have already been immensely devastated by the hurricane, do not need to fear for their lives when filling up their gas at the pump or securing food for their family.

We thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

We look forward to your timely response.

Carolyn B. Maloney
Nydia M. Velázquez
And over 140 other Members of Congress

50 More Years

To The Editor:

“Closing For Renovations” and “Local Subway Stations To Close For 8-Month Makeover” (Liz Goff, October 4) is just a drop in the bucket. Despite Governor Andrew Cuomo’s promises, riders will have a long wait before entering 30 other new, upgraded subway stations, and boarding the next generation of subway cars funded under the MTA $32 billion 2015 - 2019 Capital Plan. According to a NYC Citizens Budget Commission report, it will take 50 years, or until 2067 for all 471 NYC Transit Subway Stations to reach a state of good repair. Since the 1980s, the average NYC Transit subway car procurement, delivery and acceptance of new subway cars has been completed on average two years late. That is on top of several years more for completion of planning, design and engineering, along with the procurement process resulting in an award of a contract to a manufacturer. The most recent subway car procurement awarded several years ago is already almost two years behind schedule for delivery, inspection and acceptance of all vehicles.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Stricter Gun Control

To The Editor:

After the horrendous massacre in Las Vegas, what are the politicians in Washington planning to do? They need to come to consensus – a bipartisan one – as to how to deal with making it more difficult for anyone to obtain firearms in our country. More stringent and enforceable background checks are most definitely needed – now! The NRA must work with Congress to facilitate these additional measures to ensure that not just anyone can walk in from off the street into a gun shop and just simply purchase a weapon. This can longer be permitted to happen. Congress needs to get off its duff and start to work on this issue immediately, before we have any more horrendous mass shootings. It has become very unsafe in this country to go to a mall, the movies, houses of worship, concerts, as well as to go out for a peaceful walk or drive in one’s own neighborhood. When will the carnage finally stop?

What about getting the mentally ill people who have managed to get guns and have yet to use them to kill innocent people off our streets and into the institutions that can help them with their mental illness? There are far too many mentally deranged people roaming the streets of America, and this also must stop, with Congress moving to act immediately!

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Tighten Gun Restrictions

To The Editor:

It is appalling and saddening to hear what happened in Las Vegas and how assault weapons can be bought and used by madmen. Something must be done to end this carnage and mass tragedy. Everyone who applies for a gun must be examined by a psychologist. Mental status is important. To get a driver’s license a person needs an eye test. A person with a gun should have a mental evaluation. I applaud the heroes who helped with the massacre in Las Vegas.

Trump is not helpful to the island of Puerto Rico at all and his words are stinging and nasty. I resent Trump wanting to demolish public employee unions. He has no heart and does not care. The proposed tax plan, like the health plan is ridiculous. People need medical deductions. Medical prices are high and [we need] tax deductions from state and city income taxes. Our nation is in bad shape and it must get its act together.

Our schools are really unsafe after that incident when an 18-year-old stabbed and killed a 15-year-old. Metal detectors must be in every school like in an airport and scanning devices must be used. Our children’s safety is of great importance. The schools are overcrowded as well.

I applaud the NYPD for protecting our Astoria Center of Israel Synagogue during the high holidays. We have the best police department in the entire nation.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

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