Doctors to Mayor: Halt the Transfer of Homeless New Yorkers from Hotels to Shelters Now

(GOTHAM GAZETTE)  Amanda Ramsdell & Nathaniel Hupert, July 28, 2021

As most New Yorkers adjust to enjoy newly vaccinated and unmasked social lives, many of the city’s most medically vulnerable – homeless individuals who through painstaking work by many advocates were able to secure safe, secure hotel rooms for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic – remain in unnecessary peril. At City Hall’s whim, they are being sent back en masse to congregate living facilities that, with the rise of the much more transmissible Delta variant, may become hotbeds of viral transmission even among the fully vaccinated (see the example of the Yankees pitching staff).

Knowingly forcing congregation (even if vaccinated) is not recommended for the general public and should not be applied for those seeking shelter. Health workersnow call for the immediate halt of such actions happening this week, alarmed by the immediate danger this poses to individuals in the shelter system. 

Ask any health-care professional across the city and you will hear that we entered the pandemic in March 2020 struggling to address an acute housing crisis. COVID-19 made things exponentially worse, and the mobilization of resources for homeless individuals by the City was slow, inadequate, and confusing, prompting concern and questions by April 2020. Eventually, by dint of forceful advocacy, vital resources – namely hotel beds – did come for many. Hotels have been used by the City throughout its history and in recent pre-pandemic times (which is to say this is not a new idea or radical strategy).