Mayor Bill De Blasio Vows To End Homeless Hotel Program In New York City

Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed Tuesday to get the city out of the hotel homeless shelter business. Despite admitted problems with the system, making the transition could take several months; CBS2's Dave Carlin reports.

Video Transcript

- Today, Mayor de Blasio vowed to get the city out of the hotel homeless shelter business. Despite admitted problems with the system, making this transition could take several months. CBS 2's Dave Carlin is live in Hell's Kitchen with more tonight. Dave?

DAVE CARLIN: Dana, a key part of going back to traditional shelters is getting the homeless clients vaccinated. And while that is happening on site in some hotels already, it is just not fast enough for some angry residents, including this man.

DANNY DEPAMPHILIS: You walk around in fear.

DAVE CARLIN: Security cameras on Rudy's Bar, which Danny DePamphilis manages, catches crime after crime, including this gunfight from the end of June along 9th Avenue in the West 40s.

DANNY DEPAMPHILIS: It's getting actually worse.

DAVE CARLIN: For the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year for Midtown South Precinct, which covers parts of Hell's Kitchen, overall crime is up 4.2%, some of it being blamed on dozens of hotels used as shelters, housing mostly law-abiding homeless, but also some clients described as dangerously mentally ill. Police say Brandon Elliot, charged with assaulting a 65-year-old woman, was in the shelter at Four Points by Sheraton on West 40th Street. Tuesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio conceded hotels do not make good shelters. He promised a return to higher capacity traditional shelters, but without saying exactly when.

BILL DE BLASIO: The goal is to get out of all hotels everywhere and only have shelter be in permanent shelters. I am anxious to set a timeline for when we can get folks back to the shelters and to be public about that. So we'll have more to say on that shortly after we do a little more work.

DAVE CARLIN: The city's lack of a specific exit strategy for the Homeless Hotel Program frustrates Holly-Anne Devlin, who leads the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Action Committee. Warmer weather is bringing back a rise in street living. Sidewalks cleared out in the winter are populated again. Her group worked with police last year to increase foot patrols in the area. She says that did not last.

HOLLY-ANNE DEVLIN: There's no one outside. So you could walk around this entire neighborhood for the next couple of hours and you won't see a single police officer. That's problematic.

DAVE CARLIN: Devlin says businesses and residents move out when they feel abandoned by elected officials and police. And her group says homeless New Yorkers deserve better-- access to vaccinations and mental health services that come to them in safer, more well-equipped surroundings. Late this afternoon, there was a meeting where those advocates met with some city leaders and had some of their concerns heard. What happened was that they were told that some of these hotels are already reducing the homeless populations, but they were given no specific percentage of how many. Live in Hell's Kitchen, Dave Carlin, CBS 2 News.

- Dave, thank you.