Three weeks ago nearly 1,000 protesters gathered outside a homeless shelter in Elmhurst, Queens to chant phrases like "Pay your rent!" and "Get a job!" The protesters say they were incensed by the fact that the Pan Am Hotel was converted to a shelter without their knowledge, but the fact that they shouted down a resident attempting to defend the homeless suggests something uglier. The tensions are so high that the Department of Homeless Services is removing many of the shelter's residents to a movie theater tonight to spare them from another bitter demonstration.
Roughly 235 people who live in the shelter will take a bus to see "How to Train Your Dragon 2" at a theater in Jamaica. The DHS official added that it's not unusual for the city to pay for recreational activities. More than 180 families live at the Pan Am, which was opened to combat the homelessness epidemic that the new administration inherited. There are currently around 54,000 homeless in the city's shelter system, a number that has remained steady since 2013.