Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement signals the beginning of the end to an arrangement that many homeless people said provided a better living environment.
By Andy Newman
New York City plans to move about 8,000 homeless people out of hotel rooms and back to barrackslike dorm shelters by the end of July so that the hotels can reopen to the general public, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.
When the pandemic lockdown began last spring, New York City moved the people out of the shelters, where as many as two dozen adults stayed in a single room, to safeguard them from the coronavirus. Now, with social distancing restrictions lifted and an economic recovery on the line, the city is raring to fill those hotel rooms with tourists.
“It is time to move homeless folks who were in hotels for a temporary period of time back to shelters where they can get the support they need,” Mr. de Blasio said at a morning news conference.
The mayor said the city would need the state’s approval, but a spokesman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that as long as all shelter residents — even vaccinated ones — wore masks, the state had no objections to the plan.
“The governor has lifted social distancing restrictions, so now people just have to follow the C.D.C. guidelines on masks,” said the spokesman, Rich Azzopardi.
On Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo announced that the state was lifting nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions and social distancing measures, after more than 70 percent of the state’s adults had received at least a first dose of a vaccine.
It was unclear when the city would move forward with its plan. When asked when people would be moved back to shelters, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Homeless Services said the agency still believed it needed the state’s approval.
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