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The homeless men at the Four Points by Sheraton on W40th Street will today start their move back to homeless shelters in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Yesterday, they held a press conference to protest against the return to dormitory living.

John Bowden at Four Points hotel. All Photos: Phil O’Brien.

As well as Four Points, the Department of Homeless Services 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 in Hell’s Kitchen, starting this week.

“COVID is still out there. We’ve got the Delta Variant. Just 14% of the population here are vaccinated. We’re going back to 12 to 15 people in a room, and they cannot mandate people to wear their masks,” said John Bowden, a resident at Four Points. “People do what they want. They’re just out of jail, they’re dealing with mental health issues and addiction. I just want to live my life.”

THE CITY reported this week that as of June 21, the latest data available, about 6,500 shelter residents had been vaccinated through DHS services. That represents 14% of the 47,114 population of the shelter system.

Peter Trapani is unhappy with the move back to congregate housing.

Peter Trapani, another hotel resident who will be heading to the Bronx today, said: “It’s scary. COVID is still here. We’re up to 16 men in a room. We’ve been told things will be rearranged so there are less people — but others say it’s the same as when we left. They just did a paint job.”

Bowden and Trapani both were frustrated that the new voucher system announced by politicians will not be in place for months. “There are thousands of apartment buildings in Manhattan with available housing. The landlords need to be forced to take the vouchers,” said Trapani. The Gothamist reported in March that although the new voucher plan made significant changes to the housing system, last-minute changes mean that the vouchers will expire once a person earns 250% of the federal poverty limit, or just above New York City’s minimum wage.

Marni Halasa at the press conference at Four Points.

Local activist Marni Halasa organized the event yesterday to give voice to hotel tenants. “The Mayor should be focusing on finding them permanent housing. There’s an abundance of empty buildings, office spaces, empty hotels in the district and in the city that could be used as permanent housing with supportive services in the building,” she said.

“This was really the time that we actually could have solved the homelessness crisis — but there’s no political will. I hope the next mayor will actually do something about this. It’s what New Yorkers want — the homelessness crisis solved,” Halasa added.

The move of homeless from the Four Points gets underway.

Twenty minutes before the conference got underway, a 66-year-old Columbian tourist was walking with his family when he was hit with a metal pipe at W44th and 8th Avenue (less than half a block away from the hotel). The tourist was taken to Bellevue Hospital with non-life threatening head injuries. The New York Post reported that a 54-year-old homeless man living at Four Points was arrested for the assault.

Back in March, another homeless man living at the hotel was arrested and charged with the brutal beating of Vilma Kari, a 65-year-old Asian woman.

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4 Comments

  1. Well, they have choices. Choice number one, they could get vaccinated and not use that as an excuse to be “scared” about no longer being able to live for free in hotels with zero supportive services. Choice number two, they could work on getting jobs. There are SO many business both big and small in this area alone that are desperate for workers.

    I am not heartless and I understand the plight of the homeless, and I 100% blame the city and DeBlasio’s entire administration for the gross mismanagement and lack of services for these people, but just allowing them to live alone in hotels forever with no services other than being given handout after handout is not the answer.

  2. They should have single room’s in all shelter’s so that no one has to live in the same room this would help a great deal and prevent a lot of things from happening it’s not that easy for a lot of the Men in the Shelter System to get a Job due to the fact some have severe Mental Health Issues and can’t hold down a Job other’s lack social skills to work with the public there are numerous reasons and countless other issues that need to be addressed before sending a lot of these Men to Work it would be setting up a person for failure and wondering why it didn’t work people are quick to say oh they should do this and that but the Truth of the matter is have you ever been Homeless it’s a terrible place to be in one’s Life and also most are treated like they aren’t even a Human people should walk in others shoe’s before saying anything about things they know nothing about and Yes I was Homeless on and off for a lot of Year’s due to a host of different issues in my life some of my doing and some things that were out of my control. So don’t point fingers at the Homeless people who are in power have already designed this and other stuff to do exactly what it’s doing so that people stay in the System and in Poverty.

  3. Typical deBlasio chaos with zero regard for people. NYC had a lot of time to get their act together to oversee and mandate the set up and safety at the shelters. There are so many people who should be held accountable for this entire fiasco. Since August of 2020 I contacted all the “officials” in change and questioned what the plan was for when the hotel stays were over and I got zero response from anyone: Commissioner Banks, the entire City Council Committee on General Welfare (useless), DHS, Mrs. cut the ribbons MBP Gale Brewer, Speaker Where in the World is Corey Johnson, I’m the best Holyman (Hoylman), etc….. I got crickets. The entire situation is horrendous. And the bigger question is what is going to happen to all of the people who do not accept their new assignments and end up on the streets? Shame on NYC. Take half the funding for our shelter system and someone who knows what they are doing can make it all work, humanely. Zero vision.

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