N.Y.C. Halts Plan to Move Homeless People From Hotels After Legal Filing

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But the Legal Aid Society’s motion, filed on Thursday in federal court, says that in its haste to complete the moves by the end of July, the city’s Department of Homeless Services had violated the settlement by routinely denying extensions of hotel stays and not giving others a chance to request them. Others were told that no extensions would be granted.

“The city is moving people faster than it can screen them,” said Joshua Goldfein, a staff attorney for the society. “So every day, at every hotel, we are meeting people who have disabilities that are not taken into account when D.H.S. was assigning them a new placement and as a result are being sent to places that are dangerous for them or can’t serve them.” He said hundreds of people had been affected.

Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for D.H.S., said the city had already completed transfers from 23 of more than 60 hotels. The city was “holding in abeyance the scheduled transition” from three others planned for Friday and Monday, including the Hotel at Fifth, which has served as a shelter for women with disabilities, pending a court hearing on Tuesday, he said.

Ms. Williams, 48, an out-of-work pharmacy technician, showed paperwork that said she had been granted an exemption and would be going to a single or double room. Yet she was slated to be put on a bus bound for a group shelter on 52nd Street until the transfer was canceled.

Helen Strom, the supervisor of benefits and homeless advocacy for the Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center, stood under the awning of a Korean restaurant interviewing clients and dashing off emails to city officials. She said the people at the hotel who were being wrongfully denied accommodation included women with pulmonary disease, chronic asthma and seizure disorders.

“They are right now in flagrant violation of the law,” she said. “The mayor is focused on evicting people from Midtown and wealthy neighborhoods, and he cares about that over people’s safety.”

During the pandemic, the number of single adults in shelters climbed to a record 20,000 — partly because the virus and its economic fallout left many people homeless, and partly because the city offered hotel rooms that drew people off the streets and subways.

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