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De Blasio Suggest Possible Timetable For Return Of Homeless From Hotels To Shelters

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Dozens of hotels in New York City are being used to house the homeless during the pandemic, but with a goal of reopening July 1, will those hotels be available to tourists?

CBS2's Dave Carlin pressed Mayor Bill de Blasio about this.

On West 36th Street near Ninth Avenue, a hotel shelter now returns to life as a renovated, fully tourist-oriented business. Hotels are shifting away from the city experiment that kept homeless residents in hotel rooms and out of crowded shelters during the pandemic.

But crime spiked.

On some blocks police say 911 emergency calls went from averaging dozens per month to about 100, including 10th Avenue near 49th Street - in and around the Skyline Hotel - with a rise in drug dealing, assaults, robberies, and more.

"It's dangerous," said Hell's Kitchen resident Ganeth Canavan.

"And what do you think the solution is?" Carlin asked.

"The solution is to create a plan and make sure that we put them in a place where they are going to be productive, they're not going to be getting everything dirty, the crime is going to stop and that way we have tourists back. They need to come back to boost the economy in the city," Canavan said.

"Of course, we intend to return folks who remain homeless back to shelters where you can get the best support," de Blasio said Wednesday.

Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Holds Daily Briefing

The mayor repeated his promise to return the homeless to traditional shelters. And for the first time, he suggested a loose timetable of perhaps two months.

"I do think it's coming soon, by definition. As I said, if we're looking at July 1 as a time for a full reopening," de Blasio said.

The NYPD announced it is in the process of adding about about 80 uniformed officers to Hell's Kitchen, Midtown and Chelsea.

"You have to look over your shoulder," said Poseidon Bakery owner Paul Fable.

Fable, a lifelong Hell's Kitchen resident, says he's never seen crime get this out of control. He thinks the worst offenders are drug dealers and other unwanted visitors who are not even staying in hotels.

The city did not get back to us with the current number of hotels still being used as shelters, but it's believed to be more than 60.

De Blasio said what prevents him from giving an exact deadline for the homeless to exit is that state and federal governments also need to weigh in before a return to traditional shelters.

The mayor said returning the homeless to congregate shelter settings must be done with proper safeguards, along with the right services and programs.

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