NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of homeless people have been moved from packed shelters and shutdown subway trains into hotels all throughout the city.
“Something really groundbreaking is happening here. Something very different and very powerful,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.
People in need of help are now getting it. The mayor said the city engaged 261 homeless people on Sunday night into Monday. Of those, 139 accepted services, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported.
“When I look at the sheer number of people whose lives now could be changed, it really gives me hope that we’re going to be able to get a number of homeless people once and for all off the streets,” de Blasio said.
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The city’s social services commissioner, Steven Banks, said before the coronavirus pandemic that on a good day 5% of homeless people would accept services. In the last week those numbers have been closer to 50%.
“Every night for each human being is a victory to have a roof over their heads rather than being on a subway train,” Banks said.
What’s not clear is how long people are staying off the streets, and where exactly they’re being taken.
What we do know, is that the city has moved 8,000 people from homeless shelters to temporary sites to allow for social distancing.
Many of these homeless adults have been brought in to hotels throughout the city, including one on West 55th Street, The Blakely, and neighbors in the community are frustrated no one told them anything.
David Achelis, the president of the neighborhood association, said things changed overnight without warning.
“People just want to know what’s going on. Nobody is against the shelters. We all know we have a homeless problem and we all want to chip in and solve it. But we just want to know ahead of time what’s happening so we can plan for it and not be taken by surprise,” Achelis said.
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Council member Keith Powers said that won’t be the case any more.
“I did get confirmation from the Department of Homeless Services today that they’re going to start with a 24-hour notification for any changes that they might be making to repurposing hotels,” Powers said.
For now, neighbors in the area told Rincon they’re concerned about their safety, and their own health, having gotten little to no information from the city about who’s been moving in during this ongoing crisis.