New York City Facing Backlash for Using Hotels to House Homeless

Concerns are growing in New York City as the nearly empty hotels impacted by the coronavirus outbreak are being used to shelter homeless people, causing an increase in crime and leaving taxpayers with a portion of the bill.

According to The Daily Mail, Mayor Bill de Blasio has used high-priced hotels to keep the city’s homeless population safe and reduce the number of people in shelters since the viral pandemic began in March.

While exact details of the homeless program were not publicly available, sources told the Daily Mail at least 139 of the approximately 700 hotels in NYC are working with the government to house impacted residents.

Around 13,000 people are reportedly living in hotels after being removed from overpopulated homeless shelters. The city reached an agreement in April with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to see the agency foot around 75 percent of the bill.

As a result, New York taxpayers are now responsible for paying for the moves, staff salaries, medical care, mental health and extra services. The deal with FEMA runs through October and there are no plans in place to end the program.

“(This) will eventually bankrupt the city,” Central Park Civic Association President Michael Fischer said. “With more and more people fleeing the city because of the homeless problem and defunding the police where they don’t feel safe, the city will not have the funds to sustain this. And the crisis is only going to get worse.”

Some lawmakers in the state are pushing for legislation that would allot around $28 million a month to shelter the homeless in hotels. Social services officials said the program was designed to protect some of NYC’s most vulnerable clients, such as seniors and single adults who we are relocated from larger shelters.

The program has also caused concerns about an increase in crime and unsafe conditions near the hotels, as a report released Tuesday showed 34 of the 57 hotels used by the city to house the homeless families in 2017 reported criminal activity.

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