The vast majority of single homeless adults moved from shelters to stop the spread of COVID-19 were relocated to hotels in Manhattan, the city’s Department of Homeless Services data shows.
Of the 8,969 single adults assigned to “COVID-related” hotels, more than 5,400 are living in 32 Manhattan hotels — with at least 3,000 concentrated in Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea.
Those numbers are a stark contrast to other boroughs.
Staten Island hotels haven’t housed any single adults as part of the city’s effort to reduce the density in shelters and prevent the spread of COVID-19, city data shows.
As of July 31, 1,600 single adults have stayed in 15 Brooklyn hotels, 1,719 in 14 hotels in Queens and 240 in two Bronx hotels.
More recent data suggests there’s a bigger homeless population in Midtown hotels — up to 4,300, according to Barbara Blair, head of the Garment District Alliance. The numbers are consistent with a wave of complaints from borough residents fearful about the influx.
“It’s terrifying people,” said Dan Biederman, president of the Bryant Park Corporation and the 34th Street Partnership, which represents local businesses. “I have never seen such vociferous comments from owners and tenants.”
A homeless encampment along W. 39th St. between Ninth and Tenth Aves. on Saturday in Manhattan. (Barry Williams) (Barry Williams/)
The Garment District Alliance, which represents local businesses, wrote in an Aug. 17 letter to Mayor de Blasio the situation has “degraded to a crisis point.”
“Since the arrival of the temporary shelters throughout West Midtown, there has been a precipitous increase in crime and antisocial behavior on our streets,” the group wrote in a letter signed by dozens of businesses and residents.
“Open drug use and sales, drinking, fighting, aggressive behavior, panhandling, verbal altercations, urinating and defecating in public and loitering have become commonplace.”
“None of these issues existed at this level and intensity before the use of area hotels commenced,” the alliance added.
Some of the most vocal backlash has come from the largely white and upper-middle class Upper West Side, where for weeks residents railed against the relocation of about 300 homeless men to the Lucerne Hotel.
De Blasio last week said the men would be moved from the Lucerne — not because of the political pressure from residents or Randy Mastro, the high profile lawyer and former deputy mayor who promised to sue the city over the controversy — but because it was part of a broader city policy goal, first outlined in 2017, to phase out hotels as shelter for the homeless and disperse the homeless more evenly throughout the city.
COVID-19 put that plan on hold as the city scrambled to slow the virus spread in homeless shelters by transferring people to