On the top floors of the 20-story “retro chic” Queens hotel/condo known as The Kewl, one-bedroom condos rent for $2,400 a month.
Meanwhile, a few floors below in the same building, taxpayers pay a cool $5,250 a month to house the homeless in Comfort Inn hotel rooms.
The upside-down math is part of Mayor de Blasio’s latest gambit to fix one of his most frustrating dilemmas — homelessness — by increasingly placing families in expensive hotels.
Since de Blasio promised to cut back on hotels eight months ago, his administration has instead expanded their use, notifying 12 community boards citywide that the homeless will be placed in hotels in their neighborhoods.
And the cost to taxpayers is astronomical at $175 per night. That comes to more than $5,000 a month per room.
“If they gave them permanent housing with a kitchen, with a bedroom, with a bathroom — it would be much less,” said City Council member Karen Koslowitz, whose district includes The Kewl.
On Feb. 28 the mayor announced his Turning the Tide plan to reverse the rising number of homeless. He promised to reduce the city’s reliance on hotels, and vowed to give neighborhoods lots of notice if shelters were coming their way.
With The Kewl and a Long Island City hotel where the city began placing homeless last week, that notice consisted of a call the night before the families started showing up.
On Wednesday, Department of Homeless Services spokesman Isaac McGinn said the city has stopped using five hotels since February, but the 12 new hotels serve as a “bridge to shelter homeless who would otherwise be turned out into the streets” while the city trims the use of private “cluster site” apartments and adds more shelter beds.
In the past the city opened shelters in neighborhoods with little notice, prompting angry protests that in at least one Queens neighborhood forced the city to back off.
In unveiling his new plan, de Blasio promised big changes to that damaged dynamic, declaring, “When we create a new shelter facility, we will provide 30 days’ notice or more. That is going to be a strict rule.”
Not quite. About a week ago, Homeless Services notified Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer that — starting the next day — the entire 82-room Best Western at 38-05 Hunters Point Ave. would be used as a family shelter.
“The idea that you would tell a community hours literally hours before you start moving families into a former commercial hotel is absurd,” said Van Bramer, who was himself homeless as a child. “It defeats the purpose of building support for the homeless.”
At The Kewl in Kew Gardens, the city informed Koslowitz it would be placing the homeless there in 24 hours.
“They called me three o’clock Friday. Friday, and they were moving in Saturday,” Koslowitz said. “That’s how much notice we got, and it was right before a holiday, a very religious holiday. I mean, they would do the same thing if it was Christmas Eve day.”
The choice of The Kewl is somewhat unusual in that the homeless are staying floors below condos with “unparalleled natural light,” “lightly distressed white oak hardwood floors” and “Zen oversized stone bathrooms (with) enough space to fit all your products.”
On Wednesday the hotel entrance was blocked due to construction, so the homeless would have to enter The Kewl via the condo’s ornate lobby.
With Laura Dimon