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NYC Plans To Move Homeless People Out Of Hotels And Back To Shelters

Homeless people were housed at the Lucern, which raised the ire of some in the community.

The de Blasio administration is moving to end a policy that housed homeless people in city hotels in an effort to allow operators to reopen their doors to guests once more. 

“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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a morning news conference.

Some 8,000 people will be moved out of 60 hotels by the end of next month, The New York Times reports. The state needs to sign off on the change, but a spokesperson told the Times there wouldn’t be any issues as long as people continued wearing masks.

The practice of allowing homeless people to live in hotel rooms normally occupied by tourists began last April at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

The city also said at the time it would allocate $250M to compensate hotels that volunteered to house New Yorkers who had Covid-19, were showing symptoms of Covid-19 or had been exposed to the virus. Hotel Association of New York City CEO Vijay Dandapani told Bisnow at the time hotel owners were renting out the rooms amid the crisis at between $100 and $170.

Some advocates claimed ending the program was happening too early, saying that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had previously offered to fund the rooms until September. Some homeless people currently living in the rooms told the Times they would sooner return to the streets than a shelter.

But not everyone approved of the program to begin with; on the Upper West Side, locals petitioned against the decision to house homeless men at the Lucerne Hotel on West 79th Street. Earlier this month, a state appeals court ruled the men could be moved out of the hotel, after months of legal disputes. 

The concision of the program comes as businesses in the city work to try and recover after months of closures. This week, all restrictions that had been imposed were lifted by the state government because 70% of all adults have now received at least one dose of the vaccine. The focus has now shifted to economic recovery, and the hotel sector has been particularly hard hit. In April, hotels in the city that had been closed began reopening their doors in the hopes of generating business — even amid slow business travel and lagging tourism.