Watch CBS News

Mayor Bill De Blasio Says City Will Stop Using Hotels As Homeless Shelters, 'A Little More Work' Needed Before Offering Timeline

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed Tuesday to get the city out of the hotel homeless shelter business.

Despite admitted problems with the system, making the transition could take several months.

Security cameras at Rudy's Bar, which Danny Depamphilis manages, catch crime after crime.

"You walk around in fear," Depamphilis told CBS2's Dave Carlin.

One video shows a gunfight from the end of June 2020 along Ninth Avenue in the West 40s.

"It's getting actually worse," Depamphilis said.

For the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year, overall crime is up 4.2% for Midtown South Precinct, which covers parts of Hell's Kitchen.

Some of it is being blamed on dozens of hotels used as shelters, housing mostly law-abiding individuals experiencing homelessness, but also some clients described as dangerously mentally ill.

Police say Brandon Elliot, charged with assaulting a 65-year-old woman, was in the shelter at Four Points by Sheraton on West 40th Street.

Tuesday morning, the mayor conceded hotels do not make good shelters. He promised a return to higher capacity traditional shelters but without saying exactly when.

"The goal is to get out of all hotels everywhere and only have shelter be in permanent shelters," he said. "I am anxious to set a timeline for when we can get folks back to the shelters and to be public about that. So we'll have more to say on that shortly after we do a little more work."

The city's lack of a specific exit strategy for the homeless hotel program frustrates Holly-Anne Devlin, who leads the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Action Committee.

Warmer weather is bringing back a rise in street living. Sidewalks that cleared out in winter are populated again.

Devlin's group worked with police last year to increase foot patrols in the area, but she says that did not last.

"There's no one outside. So like, you could walk around this entire neighborhood for the next couple of hours and you won't see a single police officer. That's problematic," she said.

Devlin says businesses and residents move out when they feel abandoned by elected officials and police, and her group says homeless New Yorkers deserve better, like access to vaccinations and mental health services that come to them in safer, more well-equipped surroundings.

Late Tuesday afternoon, there was a meeting where those advocates met with some city leaders and had some of their concerns heard. They were told some of these hotels are already reducing the homeless populations, but they were given no specific numbers.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.