Legal Aid Society

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LAS Condemns City's Plan to Transfer Elder New Yorkers to Homeless Shelters

The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless condemned the City over its plan to move elder and other vulnerable homeless New Yorkers safely housed in single rooms in a hotel in lower Manhattan back to communal shelter settings in the coming weeks despite the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, as reported by Gothamist.

According to reporting, people ages 65 and up die from COVID-19 at far higher rates than the rest of the population, accounting for 81% of deaths during the Omicron wave. Homeless New Yorkers placed in congregate settings are at a much higher risk of contracting the virus than if they were placed in single hotel rooms.

Rather than continuing to follow the CDC’s guidance on factors such as age and medical conditions that put individuals at high risk of COVID complications, the City has severely limited the criteria it deems worthy of a single. This limited criteria no longer considers an individual’s risk of contracting COVID-19 when determining who may be eligible for a less dense setting, despite the fact that New York City is currently in a high COVID-19 Alert Level

“Instead of relegating our most vulnerable neighbors to crowded congregate settings, the City should focus its energy on moving these New Yorkers to permanent housing, where they will be safest,” said Josh Goldfein, a staff attorney with the Homeless Rights Project at The Legal Aid Society.

“With the current wildfire spread of COVID-19, this is the worst time to make the people at highest risk less safe, and the City has no justifiable reason for doing so short of the Administration’s ludicrous claim that the pandemic is a relic of the past,” he continued.