Security at NYC hotels that house homeless a top concern for state senator

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STATEN ISLAND — The stabbing deaths of a mother and her two young daughters at a Staten Island hotel that houses families who otherwise would be homeless has shone a light on the safety of those so-called homeless hotels.

"We all knew it was going to happen. We all knew that the city was not doing the proper job and it's just shameful that we had to wait for an incident like this to get maybe something done," State Sen. Tony Avella, of  Queens, said.

Not only does he chair a task force in Albany focused with assisting the city in helping get a handle as well as resolving the homeless crisis, but it was just last month that he made the recommendations of safer shelters.

Avella met up with PIX 11 News at a hotel in Queens that the city has paid $175 a night to house a homeless family in the past. A senior city official confirming the city is still using the hotel at that rate for Thursday evening.

However, 24 hours after the tragic stabbing death of a homeless mother and two of her children at a hotel on Staten Island and after Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was offering security to the hotels where homeless people are housed in coordination with the NYPD.

Avella had the following assessment after surveying a property, "I don't see any security and in fact while I was parked here, the back door people are coming in back and forth using the back door and the back door was just open for a considerable amount of time so anybody can come in and out."

PIX11 News went to three hotels out of the more than the 40 the city is using to house homeless families. It is a practice my colleague Jay Dow and I reported extensively last fall, even detailing how the city is overpaying for rooms that we found for a lesser price at some locations.

For Avella this is not the answer to resolving homelessness.

"Once again this is just not the best way to address the homeless population," he said.

The city late Thursday via email stated that 36 of 40 hotels have accepted security.