NYC turns back to hotels to grow homeless shelters

Officials announced 11 hotels leased for families as shelter populations rise

Mayor of New York City Eric Adams (Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty Images)
Mayor of New York City Eric Adams (Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty Images)

New York City’s plan to use hotels for homeless shelters is surfacing, but details remain sparse.

Officials from the mayor’s administration disclosed this week that 11 hotels were being leased by the city to serve the growing shelter population, City Limits reported. The announcement came months after the city phased out the use of commercial lodgings for children after the shelter population dropped.

Not much else has been revealed about the city’s arrangements with the hotels. It was reported last month, however, that the controversial Podolsky brothers are leasing three hotels to the city for this purpose.

The city has not disclosed the number of families in the shelter system, but it appears to be growing amid surging rents in the city and the expiration of the eviction moratorium.

A shelter census by City Limits tallied 52,000 people in the system as of Aug. 8, up from 46,000 people at the beginning of the year. The number of families has increased from below 8,500 to nearly 10,000 during the same span.

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Eric Adams and other officials have put the number of recent immigrants to enter the system or visit an intake facility around 4,000 since May. The administration cited the widely covered arrival of immigrants and asylum-seeking families bussed to the city by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as a partial cause of the influx in the shelter population, but advocates have pushed back on those claims.

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The city is required by law to provide temporary shelter to any adult who wants a bed or any family that can prove they have nowhere to stay.

Attempts to increase the number of shelters across the city have often been met with community resistance. In May, the city scrapped plans for two proposed shelters in Chinatown after local pushback and a union dispute. The city previously canceled plans for a proposed shelter in Morris Park.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the city council recently voted to place a measure on the March 2024 ballot that would require hotels to rent vacant rooms to the homeless.

— Holden Walter-Warner