Judge halts NYC plan to move homeless out of hotels

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — Homeless people around the five boroughs can stay put, at least for now, after a judge temporarily blocked the city’s plan to move them from hotels into congregant shelters.

Thousands of homeless people in New York City have been staying at hotels since they moved out of shelters at the beginning of the pandemic.

They have said hotels are safe and offer privacy, and moving back into a shelter would erase the work they’ve put into getting back on their own.

A judge issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday, halting the city’s efforts to evict the homeless out of hotels and move them into shelters. 

The city began moving them back into shelters until the Legal Aid Society filed a motion to stop the process, saying it violates the rights of people with medical and mental health problems.

The order requires the city to ensure the needs of disabled homeless New Yorkers are properly assessed before they are moved back into shelters.

Before the ruling, homeless people were around the city and protested the transfers.

On Friday, about 25 people staying at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Midtown locked themselves in their rooms and refused to leave, citing the highly contagious delta variant. 

Women at the Hotel at Fifth Avenue have also been fighting the city’s plan, but leaders said accommodations have been granted to people with particular needs. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has been doing everything based on state and federal guidance, and they are in constant consultation with the health care team. 

The Department of Homeless Services oversees the transfers for homeless people across the city.

“We thank the Court for taking a thoughtful look at the question of how and on what timeline we return to shelter, not whether we do – and we are pleased that the judge did not stop our overall return to shelter plan from proceeding. We will make the minor adjustments to our process as directed, we plan to move forward next week, and we remain committed to meeting our  clients’ unique needs and granting accommodations as requested, as we have in hundreds of cases already,” the department said in a statement.

DHS said after notifications and interviews with case workers, the move back to shelters will resume next week.

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