Exclusive: Families given just hours to leave homeless shelter in Queens

LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens (WABC) -- At a time of record homelessness in New York City, especially among homeless families, there is a controversy about a shelter in Queens.

A hotel in Long Island City is no longer taking in some homeless families.

Everything the Rieselman family has to their name, every last belonging, was stuffed in the back of an Uber Wednesday night.

And they're the lucky ones. They can afford the ride.

Dozens of families staying in city-rented rooms at the hotel suddenly got a letter, giving them a few hours to get out.

It is a family shelter where people stay while waiting for affordable housing vouchers. But for reasons not clear, the city is turning it into a facility just for single women. The kids have to go.

But why the rush in the middle of the night, on a school night when it was 20 degrees?

"They shouldn't have done this like this or at least waited till the weekend to get the children out comfortably," said resident Tiesha Jackson.

"This'll be the third time we had to move so we settle in the kids, find a school, we dig our claws in and the next thing you know you have an hour. They're knocking on the door telling you to leave," said resident Daniel Garcia.

Families were given new locations in other boroughs where they had to report Wednesday night. But the transportation promised in that letter never showed up until well after Eyewitness News called the city for answers.

Suddenly a bus which had been parked there before we arrived opened its doors and people finally started loading up. No answers, no apology, no way to live.

"We just want our kids to have somewhere to stay like everybody else's child, go to school, have somewhere to go home to sleep that's warm and something to eat. We just want to live like everybody else. It's America. The dream. We all just wanna live and make it," said Jackson.

In a statement, the Department of Homeless Services said:
"We apologize for the miscommunication and want to clarify that no families will be turned out on the streets this evening. Families at this location were supposed to be transferred to other sites today, so we can use this location to meet immediate capacity needs, but we are in the process of making arrangements to accommodate these transfers tomorrow instead."
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