New York is booting approximately 9,000 homeless people from Manhattan’s Upper West Side hotels and relocating the unwanted and forgotten individuals to commercial shelters over the next few weeks.
Homeless individuals from the streets and shelters of New York were originally moved to 60 different hotels during the height of the pandemic in an effort to keep them from spreading and contracting the virus. Now that the emergency is abating they are being moved back to the shelters and many are very angry over it.
The Lucerne Hotel was home to more than 230 homeless people. But it was just one of many hotels utilized during the emergency. An estimated 13,000 people were placed in 60 empty hotels at the height of the pandemic. Since things have quieted down, there are only 68 left at the Lucerne and they were forced to vacate on Monday and go to shelters across the city.
To date, three hotels have seen their homeless residents evicted. Those include the Lucerne on Monday and the Kixby and Blakely Hotels on Tuesday. Five more are slated to be cleared out this week. The city will reportedly evacuate eight hotels which amount to about 1,500 people. Other hotels include The Bentley, OYO Times Square, Hotel Times Square, Comfort Inn, and Four Points.
(Video Credit: News 12)
“There’s no other choice,” resident Daniel Freeman told CBS New York. “What else am I going to do? I wish they would leave us right here just until my housing comes through.”
Another homeless tenant named Joe Humphrey stated, “It’s like we’re going backwards after we got ahead.”
“You get comfortable in one place, [then] you’re somewhere else. You’ve got to re-adapt,” remarked Mike Roberts, who was forced on Monday to relocate from an Upper West Side hotel to Kenton Hall, which is a men’s shelter on the Bowery. “It’s very, very depressing.”
The Department of Homeless Services in New York City released a statement on the matter: “This relocation strategy worked, flattening the curve last year, stopping the spread of COVID-19, keeping rates low since then, and saving lives. Now that health indicators are headed in the right direction and State OTDA has issued new statewide guidance on congregate shelter operations, we are phasing out this temporary program and returning to shelter, as we have said we would throughout the pandemic. Because this process involves moving thousands of individuals, it will take some time and won’t be done overnight, but working in close partnership with communities and provider partners we anticipate completing this process by approximately the end of July.”
The fears of contracting COVID-19 are resurfacing as many of these people will have to share sleeping quarters and it isn’t known how many of the homeless are vaccinated.
There is no word on when or if any of these hotels will reopen to the public after they are emptied out.
Homeless people could be seen outside their hotels with all their possessions being loaded into blistering hot buses that have no air conditioning. They will reportedly wait hours to get a bed at a shelter if they get one at all.
As Mayor de Blasio announced moving people out of hotels and back to shelters, the crime rate in New York City is still skyrocketing. The NYPD has drawn a link between the high number of homeless people in Manhattan and the rising crime rate. There has been a 183 percent increase in felony assaults and a 173 percent spike in robberies in the area.
(Video Credit: The Daily Mail)
The relocation of the homeless back to shelters was requested by the city Department of Social Services on May 18. De Blasio is now making that happen: “It’s time to get that clear sign-off from the state, so we can move forward. Once we get that sign-off, we can start immediately moving people to shelters and getting back to that work of moving them forward in their lives,” de Blasio claimed recently. “This is something that is going to help us move forward,” he asserted.
New York has spent in excess of $300 million placing homeless individuals in hotels since April. The move was contracted with the Hotel Association of New York City.
The wealthy Upper West Side community has angrily protested the housing of the homeless in hotels from the beginning claiming that no community input was sought by city officials before relocating people in nearby hotels. Many of the new tenants were allegedly drug addicts, criminals, and sex offenders.
More than 17,000 adults are currently in the shelter program in New York City. It appears that the Big Apple simply cannot competently handle the thousands of homeless living there as they are shuffled from the street and shelters to hotels and back again.
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