The City Council had been set to vote on legislation Tuesday to move thousands of homeless people into hotels across the city, but that vote has now been postponed. NY1 Political Reporter Courtney Gross has the details.
What You Need To Know
- City Hall, Council clashing over proposal to move thousands of homeless people into hotels.
- Supporters argue COVID-19 easily spreads in homeless shelters.
- A sponsor of the measure now expresses doubts.
- Shelter providers have also raised red flags.
There were fiery words between the head of the city’s homeless services agency and the head of the City Council committee which oversees it.
It was supposed to be a budget hearing, but a brewing debate spilled over Monday morning.
Steve Banks, the commissioner for the Department of Homeless Services, and Councilman Stephen Levin are at odds over legislation the Council was planning to vote on this week. NY1 learned late Monday afternoon that vote was put off as the two sides of City Hall go back to the negotiating table.
The Council wants to require the city to offer all single homeless adults, about 17,000 people, their own private room. That means the city would move them into currently vacant hotel rooms.
Supporters say the measure will keep homeless people safe and out of large, dorm-like shelters that are conducive to the spread of COVID-19.
Some 76 homeless people have died from the virus.
52 of them were single adults — who often are housed in those large dormitory shelters.
But serious concerns have been raised over the measure. Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer had been a co-sponsor. Now he is not so sure.
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“I want to make sure every single homeless person is safe and secure from COVID, but I also want to make sure we are listening to providers and clinicians,” Van Bramer said. “I am glad they brought the administration to the table to negotiate this out. But the final version we were looking at and potentially voting tomorrow, I think there were some serious concerns about.”
Shelter providers have also raised red flags, pointing to the danger of isolation for people with mental health issues.
The leader of one major provider, BRC, sent a letter to the council speaker and the general welfare committee chair over the weekend. It states he is gravely concerned over the legislation, adding harm will come to some the bill is trying to help.
The de Blasio administration says keeping all single homeless people in their own rooms can be a safety risk. They are willing to move thousands more people into hotels, but want everyone to have roommates.
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