NEW YORK — The city will move thousands of homeless New Yorkers who have been staying in hotels back into shelters, pending state authorization, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday.
Shelter residents were moved to hotels temporarily to accommodate social-distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is time to move homeless folks who were in hotels for a temporary period of time back to shelters where they can get the support they need,” de Blasio said at a news conference.
The move requires state approval, which the Department of Social Services requested on May 18, according to the mayor.
After yesterday’s announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo that most COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted, the mayor emphasized the need for this authorization.
“Obviously given yesterday’s announcement in particular it’s time for us to get that clear sign off from the state so we can move forward,” said the mayor.
The hotel program has created tensions in neighborhoods like the Upper West Side. Residents there battled the city over the placement of homeless residents in the Lucerne Hotel.
The Coalition for the Homeless criticized the mayor's announcement, saying homeless New Yorkers should remain in hotels for now.
“The pandemic is not over," Giselle Routhier, the group's policy director, said in a statement. "There are people sleeping in shelters who are still testing positive and getting sick. Until permanent affordable housing can be secured, the safest option remains placement in hotel rooms. With the dangerous Delta variant on the rise and vaccination rates still not high enough, now is no time to let our guard down. Despite Mayor de Blasio's comments, it is simply inaccurate to say that people aren’t getting services in hotels. It is unconscionable to guide homeless policy by the discomfort of housed New Yorkers, especially when lives are on the line."
The move, which the mayor hopes will be completed by the end of July, would impact 8,000 New Yorkers who are living in 60 hotels across the city.