Sept. 11, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The city will move dozens of homeless New Yorkers out of a Long Island City hotel where they have been staying during the pandemic.
The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) will move the roughly 60 to 70 women experiencing homelessness out of the LIC Plaza Hotel, at 40-40 27th St., and into a shelter beginning this weekend.
The agency had moved the women out of congregate homeless shelters — where several people sleep in one room — and into the hotel at the start of the pandemic.
The women are among thousands of homeless New Yorkers that DHS moved out of the dormitory-style shelters and into 60 commercial hotels throughout the city in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus at the shelters.
The women will be moved into non-congregate shelters, where individuals have their own rooms instead of sharing a dormitory-style room, a DHS spokesperson said. The locations have not been disclosed.
“Our priority is being able to preserve social distancing for all clients and continue to implement the protections from COVID that have helped us prevent the spread of the virus and flatten our pandemic curve over the past nearly six months,” DHS spokesperson Isaac McGinn said.
In addition to the women currently housed at the LIC Plaza Hotel, DHS will move 300 homeless men from an Upper West Side hotel called the Lucerne, the New York Times reported.
The housing of homeless individuals at the hotel in the wealthy Manhattan neighborhood caused an uproar from neighbors — some of whom threatened a lawsuit against the city for it.
Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Upper West Side hotel himself and subsequently requested DHS move the men out of the hotel.
“I went and saw for myself the Upper West Side last week, and what I saw was not acceptable and had to be addressed because the idea is to always try and balance the need to serve homeless folks with the need for a community to continue to go about its life,” he said at a press briefing.
De Blasio also said he heard complaints about the homeless at the LIC Plaza Hotel from residents of the nearby Queensbridge Houses when he visited Long Island City in recent months.
However, the mayor and DHS maintained that the use of hotels was always a temporary means to combat COVID.
De Blasio said it was time to reevaluate the use of hotels now that the height of the pandemic has passed and people could be moved back into traditional shelters.
“It was time to ask a question, could we safely go back? It turns out there is substantial capacity in our shelter system allowing us to do this safely,” he said Wednesday.
DHS determined that it had sufficient shelter capacity to move some individuals out of hotels, according to the spokesperson.