About 8,000 homeless New Yorkers are being kicked out of New York City hotels and moved back into homeless shelters this week, ending their months-long stays at the posh abodes due to the pandemic.
Homeless long-term guests will be moved out of 60 hotels across the city by the end of July, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month.
Last July more than 200 homeless men were moved from congregate shelters to The Lucerne hotel on the UWS because of the pandemic. Today the remaining 68 residents are going back to those shelters. pic.twitter.com/Wm9CmZLPi0
— Kevin Rincon (@KevRincon) June 28, 2021
“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,” the mayor said at his daily press conference on June 16.
“In shelters is where we can provide support, a variety of services, and that pathway out of shelter and into a better life,” de Blasio added.
The process of moving the homeless residents out began this week. The Lucerne, which took in more than 200 homeless men a year ago, moved out the 68 men who were still living there.
The high-end hotel on the Upper West Side became embroiled in a legal battle over the presence of the homeless residents, some of whom suffer from mental illness and substance abuse issues.
Residents of the neighborhood complained that the men engaged in unacceptable behavior including open drug use and urinating in public.
“Housing is a human right” was written in chalk outside the front doors of the Lucerne on Monday as the men were moved out.
The program to move homeless people into hotels, which was implemented in July of last year, served upwards of 9,000 people but will be phased out now that coronavirus infection numbers are down and vaccine numbers are up in the city.
De Blasio’s announcement came a day after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York was lifting almost all coronavirus restrictions since 70 percent of adult New Yorkers had received at least their first vaccine dose.
“Everything is ready to go,” the mayor said. “All of our planning is in place. We know exactly which shelters we’re going to be bringing people back to, they are being prepared.”
The thousands of homeless New Yorkers will return to the streets as the city weathers spiking crime. While many of New York’s homeless are not dangerous, several recent violent incidents have raised safety concerns. In February, a homeless man suffering from mental illness was arrested after he allegedly stabbed four people on the subway as they slept, killing two of them. The man had recently lived in one of the hotels the city designated for homeless people.
In May crime rose 22% across the city compared with the same time last year, according to the NYPD. Robbery was up 47%, and felony assault increased 21% compared to May of last year. Shooting spiked 73%. Rapes also increased slightly, 5%.
The NYPD said that as summer begins the police force “remains acutely focused on reducing violence across the five boroughs.”
“NYPD cops have shown us time and again they are willing to go in harm’s way on behalf of all New Yorkers,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “It is this commitment to our collective public safety – in tandem with the communities we serve – that will allow our great city to prevail in the challenges we face together.”