Staten Island stabbings highlight pitfalls of hotels turned homeless shelters

More than 2,600 people stay at city hotels
February 12, 2016 01:20PM

The stabbing deaths of a mother and her two daughters in Staten Island this week has drawn the city’s practice of using hotels as temporary homeless shelters into question.

Rebecca Cutler, 26, and her two daughters were killed Wednesday morning at the Ramada Island, where they had been living since Dec. 6. Cutler’s third daughter was hospitalized.

Advocacy groups argue that security at hotels is insufficient and the practice of using hotels as shelters has gone long unregulated, the Wall Street Journal reported. Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the city is trying to reduce the number of hotels being used as homeless shelters. Currently, there are more than 2,600 people staying in hotels, and the city pays an average of $161 a night for a hotel room, the newspaper reported.

Still, some hotel residents told the newspaper that they feared being forced out of what they consider a comfortable, clean and safe alternative to shelter life.

As it struggles to manage a growing homelessness problem, the de Blasio administration has also taken flak for its reliance on cluster site housing, a much-maligned subsidy program that places more than 3,000 homeless families in privately-owned apartments.

Due to the frequency of dangerous and squalid conditions in the units, the city’s own chief investigator called for cutbacks to cluster site housing. Instead, the city in December announced a $200 million increase to the program’s budget[WSJ]Kathryn Brenzel