Put New York City homeless in hotels during coronavirus crisis, says Brooklyn group
The Brooklyn-based advocacy group Churches United For Fair Housing is urging New York City to house tens of thousands of its homeless in hotel rooms suddenly rendered vacant by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The group says there are now more than 100,000 empty hotel rooms, more than enough to house every man, woman and child in the city.
The group is also eyeing privately-owned but currently empty homes: It says there are an estimated 10,000 illegal Airbnbs, 4,000 unsold condos and 700-plus units listed on Housing Connect.
According to the city’s Department of Homeless Services, as of April 3 there were 57,939 homeless individuals housed in city shelters. Of these, 20,265 were children.
“From a public health perspective, it’s vital that New York re-house every single homeless family immediately — as an entitlement,” the CUFFH said in a release on Monday. The group issued on Monday the report “Release Our Homes.”
NYC Homeless Services reported that there were 59 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among homeless New Yorkers as of the week ending March 29.
New York City, however, already has plans for many of its vacant hotel rooms. The city has leased at least 20 entire hotels to convert into hospitals as the coronavirus crisis builds to its expected apex. The move is aimed at adding 10,000 beds to the city’s capacity.
Healthcare workers are also being housed in hotels across the city. According to Bloomberg News, Aimbridge Hospitality, the largest operator of Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt hotels, announced a deal with Trestle Health and Housing to make more than 700 U.S. hotels with 103,000 rooms available as surge capacity for hospitals and municipalities.
An employee of the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge told the Brooklyn Eagle that healthcare workers were currently being housed at the Downtown Brooklyn hotel.
The city already houses roughly 12,000 homeless people in hotel rooms — and many homeless advocates say that hotels provide a substandard level of programs compared to traditional shelters.
“It has a detrimental impact on kids,” Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York Associate Executive Director Raysa Rodriguez told City Limits in January. “Not only is there limited space for walking, for homework, all the things we know kids need to grow up healthy — there are no designated spaces for recreational services, no play facilities.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city would end the use of commercial hotels for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness by 2023 as part of his “Turning the Tide on Homelessness” plan.
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