New York City Relies on Motels to House Homeless

De Blasio administration says policy is necessary to deal with growing problem; some elected officials and advocates push back.

News Story (New York)

Josh Dawsey, Mark Morales
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
August 28, 2016

Tags: Housing: Homelessness

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society (New York City)


Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is relying on motels to house homeless residents, sometimes turning entire properties into de facto shelters. About 4,000 homeless New Yorkers slept in 46 motels last month, up from about 1,000 in eight hotels in January 2015.

While top City Hall officials say it is necessary to deal with rising homelessness, other elected officials and advocates question whether the policy makes sense. Rooms cost $161 a night, and the program cost New York City almost $50 million over the past year.

“I’d rather they weren’t using hotels, but they are under a lot of pressure from communities not to create permanent shelters,” said Judith Goldiner, a senior attorney with the Legal Aid Society.