8 THE QUEENS COURIER • JANUARY 16, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Flushing-based homeless shelter racks up
housing violations that threaten its existence
BY MAX PARROTT
Th e fate of Nanoom House, a nonprofit
homeless shelter that serves predominantly
Korean-American residents of
Murray Hill, rests on the outcome of a
court hearing to be held later this month.
Th e 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 Pl.
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 fi nes stemming from converting the
building from its use as a single-family
home to a boarding house.
Th e inspection found that the shelter
contained three rooms on the second
fl oor 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.
Th e building was also charged with
violations related to the installation of a
second bathroom in the basement without
Th e resulting fi nes 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 Offi ce 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
On Dec. 19, Flushing Assemblyman
Ron Kim visited the shelter with his staff
to meet with Nanoom CEO Rev. Sung-
Won Park about the problems the organization
is facing and to listen to its homeless
residents about what brought them
During the visit, the residents said that
many homeless Korean-Americans have
bounced out of or avoided city shelters as
a result of language barriers and lack of
“Th ey prefer to be on the street rather
than in a homeless shelter,” said Jin
Park, Rev. Parks’ son and a volunteer at
Nanoom. “As you can see, there are many
elders here. And, you know, Asians have
a shame culture – in a sense. Th at’s why
they prefer to be on the outside where
they are unseen from the public.”
Th ough Nanoom is a Christian-affi liated
shelter, Kim said that he didn’t have a
long-term answer as to how it might fi t
into the mayor’s recently unveiled plan to
build more small-scale “Safe Haven” bedspaces
and work with faith-based organizations
to retrofi t privately owned properties
into shelters. In the meantime, he
said he intends to work with the DOB to
address their case.
“What about some of the nonprofi ts
like these that are just kind of organically
doing it on their own? How do they fi t
Photos: Max Parrott/QNS
into this puzzle? We want to fi gure that
out for them,” he told QNS.
Kim plans to try and resolve some of
the fi nes administratively with DOB by
showing them that the shelter has made
a good-faith eff ort to amend some of
the problem areas. He and his staff have
been helping Nanoom’s staff document
their eff orts to get up to code, including
the removal of bedspace from the illegally
converted rooms where it was previously
sheltering groups of residents
Th ose documentation eff orts considered,
Kim says its court hearing is not
the end of the battle for Nanoom’s existence.
“If we don’t fi x the larger problem
of them being able to exist there without
outsiders calling 311 on them, we’re
going to continue to have a problem. So
I think that’s the larger problem that we
need to fi gure out how to resolve,” said
Nanoom House residents gather to meet with Assemblyman Ron Kim.
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