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De Blasio Tosses Homeless Out Of Hotels After Complaints Of Crime, Funding

De Blasio Tosses Homeless Out Of Hotels After Complaints Of Crime, Funding
Homeless person living under scaffolding, 20th Street and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan. (Photo by: Joan Slatkin/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that the city will begin the process of relocating thousands of homeless individuals who were given access to city hotels back into shelters after New York City residents complained about crime and after Fox News revealed that taxpayers were footing the bill for the program.
Around 13,000 individuals were moved into hotels as a way of slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus among New York City’s homeless population. But while the program may have kept COVID-19 from spreading “like wildfire” in shelters and other care facilities, POLITICO reports, it created a host of other problems, including sharp increases in crime near the 140 hotels involved in the program.
“As the health situation has continued to improve, we’re going to start the process of figuring out where we can get homeless individuals back into safe shelter facilities, and reduce the reliance on hotels,” de Blasio told reporters at a press conference Monday. “Hotels [are] certainly not where we want to be in general, and we’re going to start that process immediately.”
“What happened, again, was a crisis that forced us to have to use hotels. We’re now starting the process of reducing the reliance on hotels,” de Blasio continued, adding that city officials will “make sure we can start to get people out of those hotels, relieve some of the pressure on those communities, but do it in a way that’s really safe for everyone involved, starting with those who are homeless.”
The city is reportedly already making plans to move at least 8,000 individuals, though De Blasio refused to give media a timeline for relocation.
Like many cities, New York tried to help struggling hotels by turning them into temporary shelters, either for the homeless or for recovering COVID-19 patients, giving individual inns a grant to cover the cost of housing and cleaning up after the at-risk populations.
Many of those hotels, though, were in or near the city’s Midtown entertainment district — not far from Times Square and the heart of the Broadway theater district — and the result has been a sharp uptick in crime in some of the areas of Manhattan most attractive to tourism.
But even if the crime reports weren’t persuasive for the mayor’s office, the blowback over the financial cost could have been. According to a report from Fox News, the hotel program was expensive — a bill footed by both New York and federal taxpayers.
“In April – as New York became the epicenter of the virus and there was no indication that hotel business would resume in the near future – a $78 million initial contract was inked to find hotels for people experiencing homelessness,” the outlet reported last week. “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agreed to foot at least 75% of the costs of the rooms, with the associated expenses – such as moves, the staff, medical care, mental health, and extra services – landing on the laps of the New York taxpayers.”
Shockingly, that $78 million may not even cover the full cost of the program. Similar, smaller efforts to house homeless individuals in hotels have ended up costing New Yorkers in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2018, the city “spent $364 million on contracts for emergency homeless housing,” Fox News says. Some estimates put the end cost of the coronavirus-related hotel program at $28 million per month.

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