Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to move approximately 240 homeless men from one hotel to another is the wrong decision. For the men who are being treated like political chess pieces. And for the Downtown Manhattan FiDi community ignored and kept in the dark.
The Downtown Radisson hotel at 52 William Street (selected by the Mayor) registered in June to receive federal funding to house homeless. And, of course, the big paychecks that come with them. Average cost of renting an apartment right now in Manhattan is less than the City will pay for a room at Radisson to house homeless.
Bad as it Looks
The more we learn, the worse it looks. The City is paying $3,600/month per individual — more than the average NYC apartment. The cost of Radisson is $120/night per man (confirmed by DHS as the average). With 289 room capacity that could mean more than $1mm a month.
And the hotelier who owns it — Sam Chang– is the same one who fired all his cleaners after they voted to unionize. As of December last year, the Radisson at 52 William Street was under investigation by the State Department of Labor.
The men are being booted out of the Lucerne on the Upper West Side where they have been offered jobs, activities and outdoor space from Goddard Riverside. And they would instead move to a hotel with no outdoor space on a very narrow street. And local residents have pointed out that the water tank has been roofless for months. They also access the Radisson via a bar; a potential trigger for those in treatment. Worse yet, this is not their last stop!
City Hall Moving Homeless Like Chess Pieces
The men will have to leave again. Despite City Hall announcing its ‘intentions’ for the FiDi space to be a permanent shelter — it must go through the Fair Share process. And if approved, the hotel-turned-shelter will ultimately be for ‘adult families’ — not single men. More transience, less permanence for the homeless residents and endless broken promises to the FiDi community.
And What About Financial District Residents?
They heard the Mayor say he was “concerned” by what he saw at the Upper West Side hotel housing the men. And then he offers no solution other than a change of neighborhood to address those “concerns”. The NYS emergency order was to move homeless residents from shelter to hotel to address covid transmission concern; not hotel to hotel to escape accountability and transparency.
And the Radisson is 200 feet from an elementary school and 300 feet from a nursery. So the question about where the Radisson residents will likely congregate — to have a smoke, or talk to one another, is a fair one. Fair questions deserve real answers. And all communities deserve straight talk and actual transparency from their government.
FiDi Needs Solutions Regarding Homeless:
- City Hall must abide by the 30 day notification provisions when shelter residents are transferred into a community.
- DHA must put services for an in-need population in place before the transfer occurs.
- Full transparency as to how hotels/facilities are being selected. And who is making the selection.
- Full transparency around the financing of temporary shelter stays.
The community deserves notice, assurances that their concerns are being addressed and full transparency.