Photo Courtesy of Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato’s Office
“Time and time again we hear that the City of New York is getting out of the homeless hotel business, but that is just untrue,” Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) recently introduced a bill calling on the City—and any other locality that uses hotels and motels to house homeless residents—to provide transparency on the locality’s website.
The measure would, according to Pheffer Amato, require localities to disclose the monetary amount and duration of any contracts the locality gives out to hotels, motels, the non-profit operators of the site, and any subcontractors that they use while operating out of any hotel and motel.
“Time and time again we hear that the City of New York is getting out of the homeless hotel business, but that is just untrue,” the assemblywoman added. “I have hotels in my community that are at full capacity—serving essentially as additional homeless shelters, and government agency outposts. The City is damaging economic development in neighborhoods where homeless hotels are still active, to the tune of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Hoteliers are getting massive tax breaks and contracts from the city, essentially subsidizing and encouraging this business model, and that is unacceptable. Communities deserve to know what is happening on their streets, and which hoteliers and nonprofits are participating in this system in this city.”
In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled “Turning the Tide on Homelessness, Neighborhood by Neighborhood,” in which outlined the timing and logistics of ending the use of 360 cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities as temporary shelters. According to the administration, 90 “traditional shelters” distributed across the five boroughs would replace the temporary sites.
However, as Pheffer Amato noted, in 2018 alone, the City put $384 million in taxpayer dollars towards providing emergency shelter to homeless people in hotels throughout the Big Apple, according to a New York Daily News story.