Breaking News
0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

New York grapples with growing presence of homeless in midtown Manhattan

CoronavirusJun 16, 2021 07:06PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. A man sits with a blanket as others take selfies at Times Square in New York City, U.S., June 11, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Peter Szekely and Angela Moore

NEW YORK (Reuters) -An influx of homeless people into midtown Manhattan after an emergency move by New York City to ease crowding in shelters has been a fact of pandemic life since last spring.

Many of the newcomers, living in nearby hotel rooms contracted by the city, have been largely inconspicuous. But others with mental health and drug problems have become a growing presence in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood and adjacent Times Square.

As the city looks to welcome back tourists and office workers with the pandemic lifting, suburban commuters and residents say there is a palpable difference from the New York they knew before much of the country locked down in March 2020.

"They make me feel like I wish I could do something," said Rachel Goldstein, an IT director, as she emerged from Penn Station, a major rail hub, last week for her first on-site workday since the pandemic began.

Giselle Routhier, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless advocacy group, faulted the state and city for not providing enough mental health services and for "shuffling people" between locations.

"What we actually need for the city to do is to offer folks on the streets access to single occupancy rooms where they can come inside and feel that they're safe from the elements and from the spread of the coronavirus," she said.

Longer term, the city needs "more robust housing production for extremely low-income and homeless households, particularly for single adults," many of whom were pushed into homelessness by the economic fallout of the pandemic, Routhier said.

Several of the more than a dozen Democrats running for mayor in next Tuesday's primary election also have called for converting hotels into housing for the homeless.

As the pandemic raged last spring, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) relocated 10,000 people from crowded shelters to 67 hotels whose tourism, business and convention bookings had dried up.

Over 20% were packed into hotels in the Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen neighborhoods west of Times Square and the Theater District, the New York Post reported, citing a letter from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer that it had obtained.

In a precinct that includes Times Square, reports of assaults and robberies have shot up 185% and 173% respectively so far this year, even as citywide assaults rose by only 8% and robberies fell 5%, according to New York Police Department (NYPD) statistics.

ARRAY OF COMPLAINTS

Scott Sobol, 44, a real estate agent who lives in Hell's Kitchen, believes only a few of the homeless residents are responsible for the additional complaints, and faulted officials for not vetting them for mental health issues, drug problems and criminal histories.

"What (neighbors) want is to stop getting harassed on the street," he said. "If a homeless rehabilitation center can coexist with a sense of polite life, we have no issues with it."

A DHS spokesperson on Tuesday did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

"Right now, there are a lot of homeless people hanging around, a lot of pee on every corner," added Min Kim, 69, who owns the Star Lite Deli in Times Square. "Tourists will be coming back, and it's not really good for them."

Eric Gourley, 42, a drifter who has been in the city for a week, sleeping on park benches and sidewalks, said he sympathizes with business owners who have complained about the behavior of some homeless people.

"Some of it, I understand," he said on a Midtown street last week. "Some of these homeless people are out here, they're getting high, they're getting drunk."

"We heard the complaints from the communities and that's why we increased the (police) presence," said Terence Monahan, a senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio for COVID-19 recovery and safety planning who retired earlier this year as the NYPD's chief of department. "People need to feel safe."

De Blasio announced on Wednesday that the city was set to move about 8,000 homeless residents still living at 60 temporary hotels back to their shelters by the end of July, where he said more services are available. But he said state officials had yet to authorize the move.

Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo, responded that since Cuomo had lifted all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, the city was free to go ahead with the move, so long as it required masks to be worn in the shelters.

"There's nothing to approve," Azzopardi said by phone.

Deborah Padgett, a New York University professor who has researched homelessness, opposes de Blasio's move, saying that hotels provide the privacy and dignity that homeless residents need to rebuild their lives.

"To me it makes no sense to send them back to the crowded, unsafe shelters," said Padgett.

New York grapples with growing presence of homeless in midtown Manhattan
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email