Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) is threatening to withdraw her support for the proposal to use the old Queens House of Detention in Kew Gardens as a jail again should the facilities on Rikers Island close in the coming years as planned.
The reason? The expanded use of the Comfort Inn across the street as a homeless shelter for single men.
“This is unacceptable. I will not support a prison and a homeless shelter,” Koslowitz told the Chronicle on Tuesday. “I’m not going to do that to my community.”
The Department of Homeless Services initially rented out 42 rooms inside the 123-28 82 Ave. mixed-use building — featuring 84 hotel rooms and 38 apartments — in late September with little advance notice.
But as of Tuesday, Koslowitz said there were 132 single homeless men housed there, eight more than the week before and 48 more than the DHS initially promised the capacity would be.
“The last I heard, it was 84. That’s what they said the number was going to be,” she said. “I have said something to the administration and I will say something further. I’m just too angry.”
Koslowitz, the head of the Queens Council delegation, officially came out last October in support of again using the Queens House of Detention — an incarceration facility until 2002 and a film production studio since — as the borough’s jail once Rikers closes.
According to the lawmaker and her colleagues, housing prisoners down the street from Queens County Criminal Court will save the city millions of dollars in inmate transportation costs each year.
Koslowitz said Tuesday she still believes that is true, but the cost savings simply don’t outweigh the community opposition to a larger-than-expected homeless shelter.