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The Department of Homeless Services is starting to move homeless residents from Hell’s Kitchen hotels back to congregate shelters this week.
In a memo issued yesterday, the DHS confirmed that they will be “transitioning clients” out of the Skyline Hotel on 10th Avenue, Watson Hotel on W57th Street and the Hilton Garden Times Square on W37th Street starting this week.
The department said that: “We expect the transition back to congregate shelter to be complete by the end of July.”
Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed the move, saying: “We’re going to start the process of moving homeless folks back to shelters, where they can get the support they need. In shelters is where we can provide support, a variety of services, and that pathway into a better life.”
Holly-Anne Devlin, co-founder of the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Action Committee, told us this morning: “We received the news yesterday that after sixteen months hotels in Hell’s Kitchen that had very hastily been turned into homeless shelters will begin the process of converting back to becoming hotels for tourism. This shelter hotel program, while well intentioned, was so poorly executed that residents of the shelters were not given proper mental health treatment, work services, security, or basic services that they had received in congregate settings.”
District Leader and local activist Marisa Redanty said: “The relentless work to move this process forward has finally paid off. The best outcome is that neglected shelter residents will be placed in appropriate settings where they will receive the medical and social services they need. Hell’s Kitchen will be able to utilize these hotels to boost our tourist economy.”
There has been criticism of the concentration of homeless hotels in Hell’s Kitchen. During the pandemic, over 800 men were placed in one Hell’s Kitchen block that has caused significant public safety issues for residents. However, some hotel programs (not run by the city) have given significant benefits to those looking to move out of the shelter system.
The Skyline Hotel has been a particular focus of local anger. The New York Post reported in April that police were responding to nearly four calls per day at the hotel and that two sex offenders were living at the location near to local schools. In May, NYPD arrested 38-year-old Lloyd Revell at the Skyline Hotel in connection with a brutal assault of an Asian man in Hell’s Kitchen. The attacker allegedly punched the man, bit off part of his finger and told him to “go back to China.”
The Watson Hotel was sold earlier this year for an estimated $175m. The 600-room hotel, on W57th Street between 9/10th Avenue, was one of over 130 New York hotels used for homeless accommodation during the pandemic.
It is expected that the three other hotels housing homeless in the area — the Comfort Inns at 548 W48th Street and 343 W44th Street and the Four Points by Sheraton at 326 W40th Street — will move by the end of July as planned. DHS moved homeless residents out of the Washington Jefferson Hotel on W51st Street, Cachet Hotel on W42nd Street and the DoubleTree on W36th Street last year — and completed the transfer from the Springhill Inn Suite at 338 W36th Street last week.