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The Rockaway Times
garding the issue of a possible
contract with the Department
of Homeless services, saying,
“Playland is not ‘going to be
turned into a homeless shel-
ter.’ Playland is shutting down
and we are looking to rent out
all the parts besides the Chi-
nese restaurant that is already
leased. We are reviewing and
discussing several recent of-
fers to take over the former
tavern and Whit's.” However,
they did admit to renting out
its rooms to DHS temporarily.
“It is true that we have booked
some rooms to the NYC DHS
just like any other guest on a
short term basis while we fi-
nalize what we are doing long
term with the property. It is of
course a legal hotel and there
were a variety of folks coming
and going every day so this
isn't really any different from
any other short-term group
booking. Also, it would be in-
appropriate and possibly ille-
gal to discriminate against the
group bookings being made
by the DOH.”
The news led to an emergency
meeting at the Knights of Co-
lumbus on Sunday night to dis-
cuss not only the specifics of the
situation at Playland, but the
larger issue at hand of Mayor
Bill de Blasio’s handling of the
worsening homeless situation
across the city. Councilman Eric
Ulrich called for a protest at City
Hall to rally against de Blasio’s
policies. The protest will be at
10 a.m. on Friday, October 21.
All who canmake it are encour-
aged to attend.
Employees of the tavern are
angered by the events that un-
folded, but understand Cip-
riani’s decision to back out.
Bartender and DJ Matt Preiss,
who worked under Cipriani,
said Playland’s former repu-
tation hurt the potential fu-
ture of the business. “The fact
is many of the residents spent
so much time bad mouthing
Playland and trying to get it
shut down that it never really
had a chance. When Dan took
over Playland in the beginning
of last year he hired a crew that
changed Playland from be-
ing reviled by most locals to a
place that most locals are now
mourning the loss of.”
While Playland will be clos-
ing at the end of the month,
there is still plenty going on
including DJs starting at 9 p.m
on October 22, 50 cent wing
night on Mondays, breakfast,
lunch and dinner, and a huge
Halloween blowout on the
evening of October 29. “Please
come and support the employ-
ees at Playland in our final two
weeks,” Preiss said.
Rally to Fight Mayor’s Homeless Policies on Friday
By Katie McFadden
New York City has a home-
less problem. It isn’t the peo-
ple, yet the policies in place as
homelessness across the five
boroughs steadily increases.
Following the announce-
ment that Playland Motel was
renting rooms to the Depart-
ment of Homeless Services
without community input, an
emergency meeting was called
on Sunday, October 16 to dis-
cuss the news and the larger
issue of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s
handling of the homeless sit-
uation citywide, by utilizing
hotels to house them. As the
policy makes its way to Rock-
away, Councilman Eric Ulrich
is taking the fight to City Hall
with a protest to be held at 10
a.m. on Friday, October 21 at
260 Broadway in Manhattan.
According to DHS, there are
close to 60,000 people in the
shelter system this week. The
number was around 53,000 in
January 2014 when Mayor de
Blasio took over. The city has
turned to hotels to address the
surge as they create more per-
manent solutions. “As we con-
tinue building more affordable
housing citywide, the city must
continue to meet its legal and
moral obligation to temporari-
ly house homeless individuals
and families. In rare instances,
the DHS may determine it’s
necessary to rent non-occu-
pied rooms to help manage in-
coming clients,” DHS spokes-
person Lauren Gray told the
Rockaway Times.
Back in February, de Bla-
sio vowed to stop using hotels
to house the homeless after a
man murdered his girlfriend
and her two children at a Stat-
en Island Ramada Inn that was
being utilized as a shelter. Yet
according to an October 7 New
York Post article, the rate of
homeless living in hotels has
increased from 3,990 in July to
6,000 this month.
The policy has started to im-
pact Rockaway, with homeless
being housed in unutilized
rooms without the communi-
ty’s knowledge. The commu-
nity only became aware after it
was announced that Playland
on Beach 97th Street was rent-
ing its 12 rooms to DHS. DHS
confirmed, saying, “We are
currently renting rooms in this
location to help meet our legal
and moral obligation to shelter
homeless families with chil-
dren.There are no plans to con-
vert this location into a shelter.
We will continue to utilize this
space as necessary.” Despite
DHS renting the rooms, they
have not yet actually placed
any homeless families there.
Playland isn’t the first place to
make agreements with DHS. It
has been occurring formonths at
the La Quinta Inn on Beach 44th
Street, which opened in April. A
source who works closely with
DHS confirmed to the Rockaway
Times that the second, third and
fourth floors of the five-floor ho-
tel were being used to house at
least 25 homeless families con-
sisting of women and children.
Multiple reviews left by guests on
travel site TripAdvisor in August
also mention homeless families
living there. Our source said the
first family moved in on July 12.
The source, who chose to remain
anonymous, said that all of the
homeless families were myste-
riously removed from the hotel
earlier this week, but they expect
this move to be temporary. We
reached out to Councilman Do-
novanRichards on the issue,who
refused to comment publicly on
the situation.
Meanwhile, Councilman Eric
Ulrich is calling for change. “The
mayor doesn’t get to circumvent
the rules and not give notifica-
tion to the community andware-
house homeless individuals who
needs services in hotels where
there are no services and there’s
no hope for opportunity or re-
covery,” Ulrich said at Sunday’s
meeting. “We’re not against the
homeless. We’re against the
mayor’s policies and how he’s
handling this situation.” Ulrich
is holding a protest on the steps
of City Hall at 10 a.m. on Friday,
October 21 to speak out against
the mayor’s policies. All are en-
couraged to attend.
There is limited space on a
free bus leaving from Beach
95th at 9 a.m. Call Lew Simon
at 718-945-1216 to reserve a
Continued from Page 3
Councilman Ulrich calls for rally