Comptroller Scott Stringer has rejected a contract for the homeless shelter in the former Pan Am Hotel, citing concerns about the safety of those living there, his office announced Monday.
Stringer said he won't approve the permanent contract between the city and the shelter's operator, Samaritan Village, until his office "receives assurances that anyone staying in these facilities will be safe, all outstanding violations and complaints have been corrected and all documentation that the requirements of the contracting process were met."
The 216 rooms lack kitchens, which are required by law.
Stringer's office sent the permanent contract back to the administration along with a contract for a shelter on West 45th Street in Manhattan run by Aguila Inc., his office said.
When asked about the conditions at the shelter inside the Pan Am, specifically the lack of kitchens that are required by law, DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor said they didn't have any immediate plans to add them.
"We don’t have a plan yet to install cooking facilities in that location. We’re not certain that that would be actually the best thing for us to do," he said.
From DNA Info:
Life in the nearly year-old Pan Am homeless shelter is worse than serving time in jail, some residents told DNAinfo New York.
The facility, which opened in June 2015 to help house the record-number of New Yorkers living in shelters, which was 56,602 as of May 5 and included 11,600 families, crams clients into tiny rooms without kitchens — against city, state and federal guidelines.
Instead, the 216-room shelter operator, Samaritan Village, offers three meals a day. But the food is "disgusting" and "garbage," according to nearly a dozen residents, all mothers, who spoke to DNAinfo about how they have found it difficult and expensive to live in a shelter without kitchens.
“The food is still frozen, it’s terrible,” said one mother, who has a 9-year-old daughter. DNAinfo is withholding the mothers' names because they fear retaliation for speaking to the media.
When she moved into the shelter, also know as the Boulevard Family Center, in January she got sick with what she believed to be food poisoning her first week there, she said.
“It’s exhausting when you don’t get enough food stamps because [the] shelter says they provide food," she said. "I did time — the food was better in jail."
Another resident estimates she spends $60 a day on food for her and two teenaged sons, including one with special needs. She usually picks up dinner at McDonald's across Queens Boulevard or at a nearby deli.
“If we had kitchen, I’d spend $20,” she said. “Food is expensive.”
Her tiny room, where her two sons share one bed, is equipped with a small refrigerator but she's forbidden from keeping a microwave.
The one communal microwave broke weeks ago and hasn't been fixed, residents said.
Another mom of three teenagers said she used to buy meals at a local supermarket and heat them in the microwave, but couldn't anymore since it broke.