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The city will soon move thousands of homeless New Yorkers out of dozens of hotels and back into congregate shelters due to “greatly improved” pandemic metrics, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
The move — which would move about 8,000 homeless people out of 60 hotels — comes after the Big Apple has seen record-low COIVD-19 levels and the Empire State’s pandemic restrictions were lifted on Tuesday as 70 percent of adult residents received at least one vaccine dose, according to federal data.
“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,” said de Blasio during his daily press conference.
“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 said that, if granted the necessary state approval, the city would be able to complete the process of moving down-on-their-luck New Yorkers from 60 city hotels and into shelters by the end of July.
“Everything is ready to go,” he said Wednesday. “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.”
After initial resistance from the de Blasio administration, the city during the peak of the pandemic began moving thousands of residents of packed congregate shelters into hotels, where they would stay in rooms either with one other person or alone, with the aim of slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The mayor in August said the city was beginning to wind down the use of hotels as shelters as coronavirus positivity levels declined before the holiday uptick. In September, the mayor called conditions in the area surrounding the Lucerne hotel, which housed homeless people, “not acceptable” after incessant complaints from Upper West Side residents about their new temporary neighbors.
But with COVID-19 rates declining and vaccines reaching a lion’s share of New Yorkers, the $300 million temporary hotel stays for homeless residents should come to an end, the mayor said.
“Now, the situation has changed,” de Blasio said. “Obviously, the situation has greatly improved.”
To execute the new plan, the city needs the state to sign off on the return of homeless New Yorkers to regular shelters, according to the mayor.
“It’s time to get that clear sign off from the state, so we can move forward,” said de Blasio. “Once we get that sign off, we can start immediately moving people to shelters and getting back to that work of moving them forward in their lives.”
“This is something that is going to help us move forward.”
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