City pays for homeless to stay at luxury UWS hotel

UPDATED, 12: 25 p.m., Aug. 23: At least 40 homeless people are currently living at a luxury hotel on the Upper West Side.

The city is paying for the group to stay at the Excelsior Hotel at 45 West 81st Street. It’s unclear how much the city is paying for the accommodations, but rooms at the hotel typically cost $200 to $300 a night.  Some other guests said they worried that the arrangement is dangerous, but city officials stood by it.

“It’s part of every neighborhood’s responsibility to help these families get back on their feet,” Helen Rosenthal, a City Council member who represents the Upper West Side, told the New York Post.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in February that the city was going to start cutting down on the number of hotels doubling as homeless shelters, following fatal stabbings at a Staten Island hotel. A mother and her two daughters had been staying at the Ramada Island for two months when they were stabbed to death.

On average, the cost of renting hotel rooms for homeless people comes to just under $5,000 a month per room, according to city officials. In late 2015, the city was renting approximately 1,100 rooms.

In October, the Coalition for the Homeless said the city had grossly underestimated the homeless population, claiming it’s closer to 6,000 and 12,000, well above the official estimate of 3,000 to 4,000. [NYP] Kathryn Brenzel

Correction:  A previous version of this story misidentified Helen Rosenthal. She is a City Council member representing the Upper West Side.