Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday said there was an ‘opportunity to get creative’ with where to permanently house homeless people and that the city wanted to purchase buildings to turn into affordable housing
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday revealed a plan to buy properties around the city and turn them into permanent affordable housing, after moving more than 10,000 homeless people into hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic and shaming rich residents who have left the city as ‘fair weather friends’.
At a press conference on Friday, he did not say which type of buildings the city had its eye on and the city is refusing to give more details, citing ‘privacy concerns’.
De Blasio only said there was an ‘opportunity to get creative’ now when it came to finding housing for New York’s homeless.
It presents a stark scenario for landlords or building owners who may be struggling to collect rent from current tenants, many of whom – both commercial and residential – have absconded.
The homeless-in-hotels scheme set up by de Blasio is one of many components to an escalating downward change in the city.
Many of New York’s wealthy residents fled months ago – taking their disposable income and their tax dollars with them – and there are fears they may never come back.
Crime is on the up but de Blasio has stripped the police force of $1billion in response to Black Lives Matter protests.
Some retailers and restaurants have been forced to close permanently and those who are hanging on face continuously changing and difficult rules, like having to sell ‘substantial’ amounts of food to customers to avoid crowds gathering.
De Blasio and Cuomo are enforcing checkpoints to stop tourists from 35 COVID hotspot states from entering the city without quarantining for 14 days too.
Earlier this year, it emerged that 139 struggling hotels are taking in homeless people to avoid deathly COVID-19 breakouts in shelters. The effort is being mostly paid for by FEMA, but 25 percent of it is coming from the city’s shrinking budget. It brings some cash to the struggling hotels which were decimated by the pandemic.
Through the program, they take $175 per person, per night which – with more than 13,000 homeless currently being housed in hotels – is more than $2.275million, according to anonymous city sources who have been quoted since May.
Homelessness is on the rise in many of Manhattan’s neighborhoods. Pictured, the Upper West Side on Friday
Homelessness on the UWS on Thursday. Residents say the streets are overrun with homeless people who are urinating in the street and taking drugs
Large numbers of homeless men have been moved into three hotels in New York City’s Upper West Side, much to the dismay of local residents, who have complained of drug use, public urination and cat calling. Pictured: A group of men loiter at Broadway and 79th Street
Homeless men were moved from dorm-style accommodation to the hotels in recent weeks so that they could have one or two people to each room – limiting the spread of Covid-19. Pictured: A group of people who appear to be homeless loiter at Broadway and West 95th
Upper West Side residents have reported seeing homeless men around the hotels urinating in public, openly using drugs and passed out on the sidewalk
Local Upper West Side residents fear that the homeless situation in the area is a ticking time bomb, with it costing authorities $175 a night to house a single person in the hotels
CUOMO BEGS THE RICH TO COME BACK WHILE DE BLASIO CALLS THEM ‘FAIR WEATHER FRIENDS’
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo is begging the wealthy residents who have fled New York City to come back to save the economy whereas de Blasio has called them ‘fair weather friends’ who will be replaced.
There is no hard data yet for exactly how many people have left New York City since the pandemic began, but with the wealthiest one percent paying more than half of the city’s taxes, there is legitimate concern that they may not return.
It would create an even bigger tax vacuum than the $9billion that are already gone, and the $30billion projected deficit over the next few years.
Cuomo said earlier this week that he begged the wealthy every day to come back and that he was offering to take them to dinners, buy them drinks and even cook for them.
De Blasio, on the other hand, has called them ‘fair weather friends’ who will easily be replaced.
‘It’s time to look it in the face and say you know what? Wealthy New Yorkers can afford to pay a little bit more so that everyone else can make it through this crisis,’ he said, in favor of boosting taxes for the rich.
‘There’s a lot of New Yorkers who are wealthy, who are true believers in New York City, who will stand and fight with us and there are some who may be fair weather friends but they will be replaced by others,’ he said.
On Friday, after wealthy residents on the Upper West Side took to social media in their droves to complain about homeless people from three of the hotels terrorizing their streets with urinating, loitering and drug-taking, de Blasio said the system was not permanent but would likely continue until there is a vaccine – something that is still months away.
‘The goal here continues to be to deal with the short term which, let’s say is six months-ish, while we’re dealing with this crisis until people are vaccinated.
‘Once we get out of that, we’re going to move out of hotels and go back into the shelter system. We’re going to constantly try to reduce the number of people in shelters.
‘We are going to have an opportunity here to be creative and get people into other, better housing,’ he said.
He was asked if the city would consider turning the hotels into permanent housing and answered vaguely: ‘There are buildings we control already and that’s where we’re looking to, or want to control or purchase, where we’re looking to do permanent affordable housing.’
A spokesman for the mayor’s office later insisted that the hotels would not become permanent shelters but they refused to disclose which types of buildings he was talking about ‘out of privacy concerns’.
They said the city would be asking for reimbursement from the federal government for the money spent on placing the homeless in hotels because it was an ’emergency’ expense.
The city is also refusing to release the list of the 139 hotels where the homeless are currently being cared for.
On the Upper West Side, remaining residents are now taking to social media to share photographs of people lying in the street and being antisocial.
A Facebook group, in which residents have shared pictures of men urinating, masturbating and laying sprawled out on sidewalks near the hotels, has been set up and there are other complaints on Twitter.
‘Our community is terrified, angry and frightened,’ one organizer of the 1,700 member group, Dr. Megan Martin, told The Post.
The homeless were moved from dorm-style accommodation around the city to the hotels so that they can be housed one or two to a room in order to protect them from Covid-19 more effectively, officials have said.
Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Steven Banks said Thursday: ‘In order to defuse that ticking time bomb, we implemented a massive emergency relocation of human beings from those congregate shelters throughout the city, more than 10,000 in about eight weeks.’
However, local residents fear that the situation around the three hotels could be spiraling out of control.
FACEBOOK ANNOUNCES MAJOR NYC INVESTMENT
Facebook has announced the first major reinvestment in New York City real estate since the coronavirus lockdown Monday by signing a lease in the landmark Farley building.
The social media giant has leased all of the 730,000-square-foot office space at the 1912 Beaux Arts former post office in Manhattan, in a deal that marks a major expansion of the company’s business operations in the city.
According to AMNY, the move could boost the number of Facebook employees in NYC to 10,000.
It comes as much of the Big Apple’s office space lies empty with many employees still working from home and wealthy New Yorkers having fled the city.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio heralded the company’s investment in the city as ‘part of our economic rebirth’, despite smaller businesses in the Big Apple continuing to go out of businesses post-lockdown.
The hotels in the Upper West Side are three out of 139 in the city housing homeless people according to a source cited by The Post from the Hotel Association of New York City.
The initiative is costing hundreds of millions of dollars according to the source, with FEMA covering 75 per cent, and the other 25 per cent being paid for by the city. Officials have reportedly confirmed this breakdown.
According to The Post’s source, the contract to accommodate the homeless in hotels is set to run through until October, but is expected to be renewed.
One local community board member told the website that the DHS, who is handling the distribution of the funds, have not been transparent with the local neighborhood about the details of the scheme, and locals have been given little to no input or notice.
The board member, who chose to stay anonymous, said that they had been told the city was paying hotels $175 per day, per person, or $350 a day for housing two people in a room.
‘You do the math,’ the board member said to The Post. ‘It’s a lot of money,’ adding ’It feels like the 1970s. Everyone who can move out is moving out.’
Local parents are particularly concerned with the ten registered sex offenders that have been accommodated in the Belleclaire as of Thursday, according to the state sex offender registry.
Included in those ten are Luis Martin, 44, who assaulted and raped a woman in 1995, Roland Butler, 62, convicted in 2013 of raping a 16-year-old girl, Eddie Daniel, 59, convicted of abused a 10-year-old in 2011, Jonathan Evans, 29, convicted of abusing a 6-year-old, and Michael Hughes, 55, convicted of possessing child pornography in 2007.
Local residents have reported seeing fights, have been verbally abused or harassed, seen people spitting – despite the ongoing pandemic – and have also seen people looking for, or using drugs.
Nearly 300 homeless drug and alcohol addicts have reportedly been living at the Lucerne alone since last week, with one homeless man -Angel Ortiz, 60 – telling The Post ‘whatever drug you can imagine is done there.’
Pictured: The Belleclaire on Broadway, one of the three hotels in the Upper West Side being used as homeless shelters for men during the coronavirus crisis in New York City
A room at The Lucerne Hotel, one of the 139 where homeless people are being housed. It’s unclear how many people are involved and what the arrangement is for their meals
A Facebook group has been set up by local residents to share pictures of homeless people in the Upper West Side as the crisis continues to grow. Pictures shared on the group have shown a number of homeless men sleeping on the streets in the local area around the hotels
Back to the 1970s: Concern that New York City could be headed back in time to the bad old days when it was dubbed ‘Fear City’
Local business owners and residents have been up in arms about their neighborhood’s rapid transformation into an open-air drug den, reminiscent of the 1970s and 80s, when rampant crime and crumbling infrastructure earned New York the moniker ‘Fear City.’
The apparent rise in brazen public drug use comes as New York City is roiled by an alarming surge in criminal activity, with gun violence doubling in the past two months compared with the same period last year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has blamed the recent spike in shootings on the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that people grew stir crazy after weeks under a strict stay at home order.
But NYPD leaders placed the blame squarely on de Blasio, accusing him of losing control of the city after he bowed to demands of Black Lives Matter protesters and slashed the department’s budget by $1billion.
Police officials have also charged that the crime surge was driven in part by the recent release of thousands of prisoners from Rikers Island under a new bail law and due to coronavirus concerns.
Former New York Governor George Pataki bemoaned the state of the Big Apple in an interview on Sunday, saying that the violence is a ‘regression to those dark days when criminals ruled the streets’.
‘When I took office, New York was the most dangerous state in America. People got used to safety over the last 20 years. They don’t remember the time back when we were so dangerous,’ the Republican said during a radio interview with John Catsimatidis on 770 AM.
‘I’m worried about the future of New York. We’re going backwards. It’s tragic. We’ve got to change it.’
President Donald Trump has also voiced his concern over the rise of violence in New York and threatened to send in federal officers if local leaders couldn’t buckle down on the shootings.
The violence is now fueling fears that many of the thousands of people who left the Big Apple when the pandemic set in will no longer want to return.
And if they don’t come back, the city and state would take a massive hit in income and sales tax revenue on top of the enormous cost of the coronavirus response and the sustained shutdown.
The Midtown neighborhood used to see a constant stream of people – tourists and professionals at all hours of the day – but it emptied out when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March
There is a concern that New York City could be headed back to the bad days of 1970s and 80s, when skyrocketing crime rates and the crack epidemic overwhelmed the city. Pictured: a crack dealer is arrested in 1989
A Transit Authority police officer with a German shepherd stands in a subway car defaced with graffiti as a crime deterrent, New York in 1981
NYPD officers are photographed January 12, 1988 frisking a man, presumed to be homeless, near Port Authority in New York City
The rise in shootings, homelessness and public drug use has raised concerns that New York City could be heading back to the bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s, when crime and crack reigned supreme.
At the time, Midtown Manhattan was a far cry from the relatively clean, safe and family-friendly destination of the 2000s.
Facing a massive deficit and a possible bankruptcy, New York descended into lawlessness ranging from graffiti everywhere and trash in the streets to skyrocketing murder and robbery rates.
The NYPD revolted, going so far as to issue a pamphlet called Welcome to Fear City: A Survival Guide for Visitors to the City of New York.
Crime persisted in the 1980s and the crack and the HIV/AIDS epidemics took hold of the city, ravaging its most vulnerable populations.
Crime started to recede under Mayor David Dinkins, but it wasn’t until Rudy Giuliani moved into Gracie Mansion in 1994 that crime took a nose dive.
Mayor Giuliani and his new police commissioner William Bratton implemented the so-called ‘broken windows’ policy that focused on minor crimes, such as jumping the turnstile to get on the subway for free and tagging subway trains with graffiti.
Giuliani also focused on cleaning up Times Square, an area that was populated with pornography and sex workers.
It is unclear the extent that ‘broken windows’ worked and critics pointed out it disproportionately focused on low-income communities and people on color, but murders and crime went down in the latter half of the 1990s and crime remained down until the increase of shootings that have hit the city over the past few months.
In New York there were 634 shootings through July 12, compared with only 396 in the same period last year, according to police data. Police have made arrests in 23 percent of shootings thus far in 2020, which is below the typical rate of 30 percent. Police pictured at scene of shooting on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn on July 18
During Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s three terms from 2002 to 2013, New York City enjoyed growth and prosperity – although his stop-and-frisk policy targeting young men of color remains controversial.
Current Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned and won on a platform of equality, such as building affordable housing, and a different type of policing and department than Bloomberg.
But the city that never sleeps ground to a halt in March due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and instituted a lockdown to curb the virus that so far has killed over 18,600 New Yorkers.
The lifeblood of the economy that included tourism, the service industry and small businesses closed. After years of the city’s budgets being in the green, it is now faced with a $9billion hole, high unemployment and protests against police brutality.
Police retake Avenue A during a riot outside Tompkins Square Park that erupted after police allegedly beat a homeless man. The late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a period of rapid gentrification in the East Village, and many homeless residents, activists, and squatters, battled the process, frequently clashing with the police around Tompkins Square
An anti-neutron bomb demonstrator is arrested for sitting in on 5th Ave on August 13, 1981
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