Wyndham Garden Hotel, located in Fresh Meadows, has been used by the city to house more than 100 released detainees from Rikers Island during the COVID 19 pandemic—including two sex offenders—a move residents and elected officials say they weren’t notified of, according to a story in the World Journal.
State Sen. John Liu sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this month requesting the arrangement be short-term only, and that the tenants are moved out of the hotel before the school year starts in the fall. Chinese residents and businesses in the neighborhood collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition against the arrangement which they plan to send to elected officials. They also won’t rule out the possibility of protesting. (Read the original story in Chinese.)
Located at 61-27 186 St. in Fresh Meadows, an area home to many Chinese residents, the Wyndham Garden Hotel started working with the city last month to house the detainees who were released to reduce the risk of COVID-19 breakouts on Rikers Island.
Fresh Meadows United, a local organization of businesses and residents, as well as the grassroots group New York City Residents Alliance, immediately began to knock doors to collect signatures to fight against the plan. Critics argue there are safety risks in allowing former detainees and homeless people moving in the neighborhood.
In his letter to de Blasio, Liu said sex offenders are among those who were moved into the hotel. He said safety is the priority of residents during the pandemic, but it is disappointing that the city made this arrangement without notifying the community.
“Especially when you [de Blasio] are aiming to reopen the schools in the Fall. P.S. 177, P.S. 26, P.S. 173 and Francis Lewis High School are all within walking distance from the hotel. The city should better protect the safety of families and children,” the letter said. Liu called for the mayor to make the plan temporary, and to move the tenants somewhere else by the beginning of the new school year.
Kenneth Chiu, a member of the Fresh Meadows United and vice president of the Asian American Community Empowerment, said there are 12 schools in the neighborhood serving more than 12,000 students, in addition to local learning centers.
“By law, sex offenders have to stay at least 1,000 feet from schools and children facilities,” Chiu said. “This is clearly against the law.”
Residents and businesses said they’ll file the petition to elected officials, including Liu and Council Member Barry Grodenchik, to ask for support. And they are also not ruling out the possibility of organizing marches and rallies.
A spokesman for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice previously told the Queens Courier that the city was working to ‘find more permanent living situations’ for former Rikers inmates. “Protecting the health and safety of all New Yorkers was what drove the rapid jail population reduction at the start of the COVID-19 crisis,” the spokesman told the paper last month. “This and other hotels have provided an invaluable network of stable, reliable lodging for those in need, keeping people departing the jail system out of congregate housing.”
Since the start of the COVID-10 pandemic, criminal justice advocates have been pushing for the city to reduce its jail population, saying incarceration poses a high risk for infections, particularly for inmates who are older or have chronic health conditions.
Previous City Limits investigations have found that statistics usually do not bear out fears about crime associated with the presence of supportive housing, shelters or jail facilities, and also that sex offenders and other people who were once incarcerated are often subject to unfair discrimination after leaving jail or prison.
World Journal story translated and condensed by Rong Xiaoqing
16 thoughts on “Hotel-Turned-Shelter for Released Rikers Detainees Faces Backlash in Fresh Meadows”
The residents of Fresh Meadows are smart enough to know that placing criminals in hotels destroy neighborhoods.
its unknown if our schools will reopen in the fall but as a resident in fresh Meadows who lives 6 blocks away from the wyndham hotel I just want to warn my neighbors that whatever people are residing at this hotel right.now
it’s not fair to our kids to be prevented to live their innocent lives because of the fear that they could be hurt by the sex offenders and criminals who were placed in the hotel by the city and our mayor he may think by removing these people from the jails and hospitals he may help to prevent the further spread of a pandemic,but spreading danger among the communities is worse.
Absolutely I’m a resident and Its getting bad they are stealing etc
We have the same situation here in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. I live next to one of the hotel/shelters. As I type this comment I can hear one of the ‘residents’ of the hotel yelling outside as they always do. My neighborhood is not Sutton Place in Manhattan, its a working class/working poor neighborhood. That said, it doesn’t mean that the city has a right to dump people wherever they feel like and effectively destroy our quality of life. Sunset Park is suffering and it’s not fair. We are stressed, we are scared and we are angry. Also, it’s not just the city, it’s the hotel developers who build and realize they can make more money converting the hotels to shelters. When the hotels are initially being built, nobody had a problem with them because we all thought it would bring more businesses and industry to the neighborhood. not to mention the fact that we would have hotels where guests could stay when visiting. Now it’s just the opposite. Businesses have left, responsible residents left. Why would anyone want to live in an area that is dangerous and full of nuisances?
Sunset Park was on it’s way up but with the advent of the hotels, it’s on it’s way down. It’s also distressing because the City is dumping homeless people that might have COVID 19 in our midst. These people hardly wear masks. The City was supposed to relieve our neighborhood by removing the hotels but now they are using the excuse of COVID 19 as an excuse to keep the hotels open. If the City is determined to destroy neighborhoods, they are doing a great job of doing so. As soon as I’m able to leave NY, I will leave all this anxiety behind me.
You guys complaining about this are extremely economically and racially prejudiced, at best.
Hey, Barbara Lee, why is it okay with you that *rich and wealthy* young hoodlums race and drag race around the streets of Fresh Meadows all night long in high performance cars with no mufflers (or mufflers intended to imitate the sounds of firearms discharging) destroying our quality of life, but not okay for some desperate homeless and poor folk to use a hotel to reside in during the crisis?
Perhaps one of these filfthy rich hoodlums with a fancy car racing around Fresh Meadows in outrageously noisy fashion with no regard for safety, decency or human life is your own son? Where’s the outrage there?
Why’s all your outrage directed to the victims of this horrendously unequal society – one that persecutes the poor and rewards the rich and well connected?
Hey Nathan? Have u complained about the drag racing of loud vehicles or are u just complaining here? Do u agree with placing ex cons in our neighborhood? How do u know these loud cars come from rich folk?
People living in Fresh Meadows, at least where I live, are not “filthy rich”. We are hard-working class people! The Mayor should be building affordable housing instead of paying $200 a night per hotel room. Which comes out of our taxes! So us “supposedly wealthy” people are
“rewarded” by working to support the poor. We are upset because we were not informed that pedophiles and convicted criminals were transferred to the hotel from Rikers because of COVID-19. Our Mayor never told the Community Boards about this. A neighbor found out and spread the word. Where is the transparency??
You are beyond ignorant. How can you equate convicted sex offenders and murders to teenagers racing on the street. One is a misdemeanor the other is a felony. This is not racism black communities in Harlem are adamantly protesting against this as well. Fresh meadows is a middle class neighborhood many of us here are blue collar workers who saved and worked hard enough to own a house. Many of those cars you see are cheap Subarus.
John I’m gonna to shut this who thing by the most intelligent comment to be said on this whoever is judgmental or has the time to say anything negative about a individual who is homeless or living in this hotel has the most disrespectful judgement as a human being having any way of judging Humanity if you can even take the time to judge humanity you worst then any homeless individual or sex offender living among us Try to not make assumptions you don’t know the whole story all the principles of this person who suffer with they going though or has this part of why they got this in they record it’s best to not change anymore And love humanity for who it is what what life brings once you have one judgment you ain’t no different than the rest for anyone who has something negative to say about the homeless Or any person that lives in this world let’s put like this you talk about sex offenders I wouldn’t keep you around any of my children because of your toxic mentality Who wants to be around people or put them around they children who hate humanity the way you have hatred on others
the coalition of the rockaways has been fighting against this from beginIng councilman in flushing voted to close down Rikers hes a nice guy but he sided with the leftest with no regard for neighborhoods and that no bail is anouther terrible situation he proberly thought deblasio wouldnt put one in flushing however they didnt care about farrockaway and southeast queens they need supportive housing and they never should have passed no bail BRUCE JACOBS COALITION OF THE ROCKAWAYS AND SOUTHEAST QUEENS AND MEDICAL AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ANOUTHER PROBLEM THE POLICE CANT DO THEIR JOB IM A 911 1ST RESPONDER USN VETERAN AND 30 YEARS NYCTA AND 4 YEARS SCHOOL SAFETETY
Wyndham Hotel in FM was funded and created under USCIS and SEC under EB5 program whose personnel were recruited from China; whose purpose as submitted and duly govt registered was to serve the hotel and tourism. Therefore, the Company, under Mayflower, should be restrained from operating as an “halfway house”, contrary to their purpose and operation of its establishment.
Can you explain in more detail what you are talking about?
Just another thoughtless effort by Deblasio to destroy strong neighborhoods. They raised our property taxes this year, does deblasio want us leaving queens? Vote dwblasio and his incompetent money wasting staff out.
Enough is enough. We need a mayor that will fix our city and not destroy it.
Tonight I witnessed a disgruntled staff member covered in tattoos disrespecting a disabled man in a wheelchair. The disabled man thought this was a hotel and was inquiring about availability for the night. Much to his surprise he was told the establishment is under a “Special Program” and he must leave immediately! As he was attempting to get back into his car the disgruntled staff member was yelling on top of his lungs stating human beings live here and have every right to be here. I was under the impression this was temporary by the sounds of this staff member it seems this will be a permanent safe haven for sex offenders?!? What a disgrace the amount of potential income this town is losing and how law abiding citizens are being treated let alone the disabled. This is not a good representation of Fresh Meadows what so ever!
I live in one of the buildings with my 3 young kids, I feel very unsafe now. The expensive rent is no longer worth it anymore. I want to move when lease is up. How could they do this? DeBlasio is terrible for ruining one of the best neighborhoods in Queens. These criminals steal packages and break into cars. I was doing laundry, and an inmate walked into the laundry room basement while I was doing my kids’ laundry. They walk right behind the tenants going into the building. This is very upsetting. I am VERY angry!!!!