City spending an average of $400,000 a night on hotel rooms for the homeless

Posted On Wed, December 14, 2016 By

Posted On Wed, December 14, 2016 By In Policy

Less than a week after the city announced that they’ll be increasing the number of commercial hotel rooms housing homeless families and individuals by more than 500, a report from Comptroller Scott Stringer puts the average cost a night citywide for the current batch at $400,000, according to the Daily News. The report, which is being released today, says that since November 2015, the city booked a total of 425,000 hotel rooms, costing more than $72.9 million. As of last month, there were 5,881 homeless New Yorkers staying in hotels, with the average nightly bill climbing from $163 to $194 over the past year.

In certain cases, these numbers jump alarmingly high. When the UN General Assembly was in session, the city booked two-night stays for 15 homeless families at a hotel near Times Square for $629 night (nearly double the cost of a luxury stay at the Waldorf Astoria). They say the normal price is $319 a night, and they’ve worked out a deal to pay $189 a night throughout January and February. But this in addition to 800 other rooms that cost more than $400 per night.

As 6sqft previously reported, “the practice is part of an effort to phase out cluster housing, another type of homeless housing in which non-profit groups enter contract with the city to rent out apartments as temporary shelters.” And though cluster housing has been controversial for the fact that it reduces affordable housing units (it’s also come under fire recently after two young girls died when a radiator exploded in a Bronx cluster unit), these apartments cost an average of $2,740 a month, or $3,540 per month for temporary residences known as Tier II. By comparison, the average hotel unit is $6,600 per month, nearly $80,000 annually.

Stringer is critical of the Mayor’s plan to add more hotel rooms. Though he last week approved de Blasio’s request for emergency spending to increase the hotel rooms, he’s calling for “a comprehensive, transparent road map to solve this extraordinary crisis,” noting that hotels lack privacy, kitchens, and family services such as day care. They also come with hidden costs since they often need to be booked on an emergency basis and therefore don’t show up immediately in public records.

Mayoral spokeswoman Aja Worthy-Davis said, “There’s no doubt that hotels are not ideal for homeless New Yorkers, but until we get citywide acceptance that more shelters are needed, hotels remain the only short-term option for keeping many New Yorkers off the streets.”

[Via NYDN]

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