City increasingly depends on motels to house homeless

Program has cost nearly $50M in past year

Aug.August 29, 2016 11:35 AM

The city is increasingly relying on motels to house homeless residents, and it’s costing city taxpayers big time, to the tune of almost $50 million.

More than 4,000 homeless individuals stayed at 46 motels last month, a dramatic jump from the 1,000 who slept in eight hotels in January, the Wall Street Journal reported. The city has turned to motels — such as the Quality Inn in Woodside, Queens — as it grapples with overflowing shelters and a reluctance from community members to build new ones.

“It’s a citywide problem that has built up over many years. We have a legal obligation and a moral obligation to not have people on the streets,” Steve Banks, commissioner of the Human Resources Administration, told the newspaper. “Commercial hotels are a bridge as we’re siting and opening new shelters.”

In the past year, these motels turned homeless shelters have cost the city almost $50 million. On average, the rooms cost $161 per night, the Journal reported.

The mayor 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. [WSJ] — Kathryn Brenzel

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