A Queens man has pulled out all the stops in protest of a 113-bed homeless shelter set to open this winter. Saverio “Sam” Esposito, 53, claims he hasn’t eaten since Monday, August 6, in protest of the facility, which is one of 90 that Mayor Bill deBlasio hopes to open around the Big Apple.
“I’m going to keep this up till they carry me away by ambulance,” or the mayor agrees to a sitdown, the retired cop vowed.
“I know that once they put this [shelter] up, this whole area is going to change dramatically.”
Esposito has staged his protest outside the homeless shelter’s proposed location, a former Lutheran school. The landlord, who has 27 tenants, has gone all-in on his hunger strike: He’s got a tent to sleep in at night, a laptop, and a fan to keep him cool while he solicits signatures by day. He even rented a portable toilet and brought along his dog.
Esposito also moved all four of his cars to the empty building, then covered them with signs protesting the facility. He swears he’s not protesting the “demonic, demented plan of a shelter in OUR community” to protect property values, though. He just cares about safety, see?
“This is an administration that does not listen. So we have a resident going on a hunger strike,” said Addabbo. “It is absolutely unacceptable that this individual feels that’s the only way he can gain attention to this issue.”
Both Addabbo and Esposito said they’d rather see a shelter for women with kids or veterans. They say homeless men with mental health issues could pose a safety threat in the close-knit neighborhood of cozy houses, plus several schools.
While women and children and veterans all need emergency housing, so too do men. But hey, NIMBYs gonna NIMBY.
The city, meanwhile, appears unimpressed by Esposito, who first made headlines in 2014—when his reputation as a community leader was tainted by his indictment as a participant in a MASSIVE Social Security fraud scheme. The scheme involved over one hundred NYPD and FDNY employees who feigned mental health issues—often tied to 9/11—in order to get disability payments from the United States government. While Esposito only pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, his own father, Saverio Esposito, Sr., was found to be one of the ringleaders.
But I digress. The city remains unswayed by Esposito’s starvation stunt, which, despite his best intentions, looks nothing like actual homelessness in this country.
“We’re moving forward with opening this facility as soon as possible to give homeless New Yorkers the opportunity to be sheltered closer to the communities they called home before winter approaches,” Department of Homeless Services spokeswoman Arianna Fishman said.
Esposito has also opened a GoFundMe to help him sue the city. As of Tuesday morning, he’d raised over $20,000, presumably from other enthusiastic NIMBYs.
The Ozone Park shelter, which again, is poised to open by winter, is expected to make it possible for the city to stop using a local hotel as emergency housing.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.