The price tag for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s program to move homeless New Yorkers from barracks-like shelters to hotels to stop COVID-19 outbreaks now stands at $299 million, documents filed with the city comptroller show.
The initial program cost $78 million but only covered a fraction of the rooms and hotels that the city ended up needing as it closed down its usual congregate facilities, accounting for the dramatic increase in the contract’s size, officials said.
Officials said that the average room rate remains $120 a night and 63 hotels are currently under contract through the deal with the Hotel Association of New York City.
Some locals — most notably, on the Upper West Side — have pushed back fiercely against the emergency relocations, arguing the hotel facilities cannot provide the necessary services and that the men cause quality of life concerns.
In response to the row, de Blasio announced in late August that the hotel program would be gradually wound down as the pandemic recedes.
After initial resistance from City Hall, the Department of Homeless Services began a mass relocation of more than 10,000 New Yorkers to hotels emptied out by the COVID-19 crisis during the spring as the disease spread in the Big Apple’s congregate shelters, where social distancing was nearly impossible.
There are roughly 13,500 New Yorkers living in hotels right now, including the 10,000 of them moved in after the COVID outbreak.
DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn said the agency will continue “working in partnership with HANYC throughout the pandemic to meet the moment, stop the spread, and save lives.”