The independently funded shelter — one of only a few in the city that houses mostly Asian American immigrants — is located in a small, three-bedroom house at 34-30 150th Place.
One look at the shelter’s green colonial exterior and its surroundings — houses, lawns and driveways — and you might think that a small family lives there. But until recently, it typically housed around 30 residents on a short-term basis, many of them non-English speakers who found a sanctuary that catered to their language and cultural needs close to the heart of Flushing.
At the beginning of November, the Department of Buildings (DOB) responded to several 311 complaints from its neighbors. Upon inspection, the agency charged the owners of the building, listed as Sunree Solid Art LLC, with fines stemming from converting the building from its use as a single-family home to a boarding house.
The inspection found that the shelter contained three rooms on the second floor that did not have the permits to be used for single room occupancy (SRO). In other words, the DOB found that the way that the residents were split up into separate rooms with locks on the doors functioned too closely to discrete apartments, in violation of the building’s status as a single family home.
The building was also charged with violations related to the installation of a second bathroom in the basement without a permit.
The resulting fines on the shelter, which does not receive city subsidy and relies on volunteer staff, could range from $47,500 to $95,000 based on what happens in its hearing with Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), scheduled for Jan. 21.
On Nov. 25, the shelter followed up with the DOB to certify that the illegal SRO units had been removed from the property.