For City Hall, fighting homelessness comes with a heavy price tag: the de Blasio administration in one instance paid more than $600 per night to put homeless families up in Times Square hotels.
The rates are the exception. On average, the city’s Department of Homeless Services pays $194 per room and night. But that number is up from $163 a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of hotel rooms the department books for homeless families jumped from 324 to 2,069, according to a new report by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The report notes that the city has paid $72.9 million for 425,000 hotel room bookings since November 2015, highlighting how the de Blasio administration struggles to battle a homelessness epidemic amid ballooning apartment rents and a lack of homeless shelters.
“These costs are absolutely alarming,” Stringer told the New York Daily News. He urged City Hall to come up with “a comprehensive, transparent road map to solve this extraordinary crisis.”
The Homeless Services department told the Daily News that it paid the $629 per room rate for 15 rooms for two nights because the UN General Assembly was in town, driving up hotel prices.
Housing homeless people in so-called cluster site apartments is typically a lot cheaper, but living conditions can be squalid and dangerous.
“There’s no doubt that hotels are not ideal for homeless New Yorkers, but until we get citywide acceptance that more shelters are needed, hotels remain the only short-term option for keeping many New Yorkers off the streets,” a spokesperson for de Blasio said. [NYDN] — Konrad Putzier