New York was in the midst of a record homelessness crisis even before the coronavirus hit. Some 60,000 people were filling municipal shelters across the city every night. Nearly a third of that number was living in dorm-style facilities for single adults, sharing bathrooms, dining areas and sleeping facilities.
“When Covid struck, we recognised very quickly this was a recipe for disaster,” said Jacqueline Simone, of Coalition for the Homeless, a New York charity. The problem was only going to get worse, they warned, as the economic crisis caused by the pandemic deepened.
They, and other advocacy groups, asked the city to find new shelters for the homeless to protect them from the coronavirus outbreak. Using hotels, which were lying empty across the city due to the pandemic, were seen as a perfect solution. Some 139 commercial hotels quickly stepped forward, according to city authorities — including a number of luxury hotels in Manhattan.