Some in shelters urge NYC to let them go back to hotels

NEW YORK – Allison Gibney says she and others currently staying in group shelters in the city are getting nervous as COVID-19 cases increase.

“We’ve all followed their instructions, got our vaccinations, got our boosters, put on our masks, washed our hands, and tried to keep our distance, but that’s simply impossible in a room with 15 women,” Gibney said.


What you need to know

  • Alison Gibney says she and others currently staying in group shelters in the city are getting nervous as COVID-19 cases increase.
  • Last year, the mayor moved more than 8,000 people from group places in shelters to 60 hotels across the city for their safety.
  • The move was fraught with peril, with residents protesting and lawsuits from New York homeless advocates once the mayor decided to send people back to shelters last summer.
  • Advocates say that as Omicron cases increase, the city must once again provide single rooms for everyone; It’s different, says de Blasio

Gibney said the city put her a year and a half ago at a hotel in Brownsville, Brooklyn, but she was moved last month to a shelter in College Point, Queens.

Alison Gibney, who lives in a group shelter in the city. NY1/Edric Robinson.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has moved more than eight thousand people from collective accommodations in shelters to 60 hotels around the city for their safety. The move sparked controversy in many neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side, with residents reporting a variety of issues from fights to drug use outside hotels. Some have sued the city.

Then, as the mayor began removing people from hotels as social distancing requirements eased, advocates filed their own lawsuits to keep homeless New Yorkers at bay. Eventually, the city reigned over the summer and started moving people out of hotels.

“They made the very abrupt and premature decision to end this program over the summer despite the continuing threat of the pandemic,” said Jacqueline Simon, director of policy at Alliance for the Homeless.

Simon said that as Omicron cases rise in the city, so are cases of COVID-19 inside group shelters. Meanwhile, de Blasio says that’s a different situation.

“What we are seeing so far in omicron is an intense increase but less impact, and we also think it will be for a short period of time. So this is not indicative of doing things the way we did last year, which indicates a plan,” the mayor said at a recent press briefing. different for the game.” “We have a lot more people vaccinated than we did when we faced the challenges last year.”

According to the Homeless Alliance, there are currently approximately 12,000 individuals in collective accommodations in shelters, all of whom advocates say are at risk and need to provide individual rooms in hotels as a precaution.

NY1 has reached out to the Homeless Services Department for comment and has received no response.

Emotionally, the woman is exhausted. “We are homeless women, many of us are fathers, and some of us are workers,” Gibney said.

Gibney said she and others feel trapped in a situation that appears to be progressing beyond their control.

“COVID has really been a thing with me,” Gibney said. “It took my job, my apartment – it certainly wouldn’t affect my health or my life.”

She says that if the current mayor can’t help her, she hopes Mayor-elect Eric Adams will.

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