Photo by Ben Fractenberg from April 2020 article in The City featuring the GoFundMe
Since Mid-March, the Homeless Can’t Stay Home Campaign has fundraised to provide hotel rooms for New Yorkers who were living on the streets and in the subways with no way to stay safe while the COVID-19 pandemic swept through our city. First, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced mandatory “stay at home” orders and then as subways were shut down overnight, we felt confident that the Mayor and the Department of Homeless Services would eventually move to offer private hotel rooms to all NYers who otherwise could not stay home. That never happened.
The city has disregarded the health, safety, and livelihood of our street homeless neighbors time and time again. Homeless New Yorkers, who are disproportionately Black and Latinx, deserve the same security as every other New Yorker — a private room in a pandemic and access to permanent housing always.
Thanks to our first round of funding, we have been able to pay for 28 individuals in private hotel rooms for 10 weeks. For some, this is the first time in years that they have had consistent and safe shelter. Others have been able to use the stability a safe space brings to find (and start) employment. All of these individuals have had the opportunity to stay safe and socially distanced.
We are now working to secure permanent housing for all 28 of those individuals, through whatever resources we can. We have convinced the city to work with all of the folks in hotel rooms to secure vouchers, locate affordable housing options, and access supportive housing if needed. Unfortunately, we are only in the early stages of these conversations and this bureaucratic process often necessitates securing benefits, IDs, and meeting other requirements set forth by the City - which takes time.
We want all the folks in the hotel rooms to be able to access appropriate, permanent housing. We do not want them to be forced to return to the streets or subways. The hotel rooms have begun to create not only stability, but a larger shared accountability to our community. Access to stable, permanent housing will allow people to focus on other long term goals including education, employment, and health. We know that permanent housing will provide continued stability for these individuals during this unsettling time.
In order to reach these goals, we need to raise $100,000. Unfortunately the Department of Homeless Services has stated that they will not cover the costs of the hotel rooms. As a result, we need $50,000 a month ($58 per day per person) to keep our 28 neighbors in private, safe hotel rooms. $100,000 gives us two months to help each individual access permanent, affordable housing that works for them. However, should we have any extra funds, we will directly allocate the funds to support their permanent housing searches, securing leases, providing assistance with furniture for their new apartments, and moving expenses.
Thank you for anything you can do to support.
In solidarity and hope,
Homeless Can’t Stay Home