Residents of the shelter lock themselves in hotel rooms as eviction begins at Hell’s Kitchen
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Homeless people who took temporary refuge in a hotel on 40th Street East between 8th and 9th avenues were to be removed from the premises on Friday morning July 2, but some refused to go.
The mood outside the three-star Four Points by Sheraton hotel was one of bitter defeat as homeless men dragged backpacks and towed suitcases to the sidewalk, where a school bus waited for them. transport to assembly shelters. The rear of the vehicle quickly became crowded with garbage bags and sports bags as personal effects were randomly loaded onto the bus.
The withdrawal comes after residents of the shelter spent much of the COVID-19 pandemic inside the hotel – one of Hell’s Kitchen’s five locations empties as the city closes its housing program temporary in a hotel.
On the cusp of the new coronavirus, many street sleepers have been temporarily accommodated in unused hotels and released, creating a rift in the community. Now that viral infection rates are at an all-time low and tourism is returning to the Big Apple again, hotels are planning to accommodate visitors to the city again. However, some residents of the shelters say they are being moved to the outskirts of town, taking them away from work and their support systems, while also putting them at risk for the COVID-19 variants.
Some 25 residents of the Four Points by Sheraton shelter are locking themselves in their rooms and refusing to be moved again, according to a source close to the individuals.
“I lock myself in, I have squatter rights. I can’t get out or they will try to force me out, ”Anthony Campbell said over the phone to amNewYork Metro.
Being locked up, Campbell said he was scared, was alone and didn’t know what to do next. The hotels provided Campbell and others with a sense of stable security, much like transitional accommodation; However, now that everything is swept away by a tidal wave of moves, Campbell feels like he’s caught in the tide.
“I also tried to contact some of my comrades who decided to protest with me, but I got no response,” said Campbell. “Maybe I’m alone then, but to fight homelessness, someone has to take a stand. “
Many of those who have been displaced allege the city has had well over 16 months to help them find permanent, even transitional housing, but instead say they are on the back burner of recovery.
amNewYork Metro has contacted the mayor’s office and the Department of Social Services-Department of Homeless Services for comment.