Several senior residents at Belleclaire Hotel, located at 2175 Broadway (between 76th and 77th Street), spoke to reporters at ABC News to voice their concerns over a number of homeless people who were recently moved into the building.
There are about twenty permanent senior residents at the hotel, and four of them spoke with ABC. One resident only found out about her new neighbors the day after they moved in, which was May 3rd. She estimates that there are about 150 new homeless residents at the Belleclaire.
The main concern is mixing two already vulnerable populations at this time. While the city states that the homeless individuals are not sick, details about that seem a bit scarce.
A spokesman for the Department of Social Services told ABC News that the homeless residents “have not expressed symptoms and are not ill”. However, he didn’t specify whether those previously living in shelters had actually been tested.
Some senior residents state they’ve seen some of the new arrivals walking around without masks. So even if they’re free of COVID-19, they could potentially catch it and bring it back to the hotel.
The common sentiment among these seniors was that they do want the homeless to be provided with shelter, but that empty hotels should be used.
Said one resident, “Why didn’t they use truly empty hotels instead of putting us in jeopardy? Would you want to live in a homeless shelter?”
A statement from the DSS states, “At DSS, we’re continuing to implement tiered strategies and proactive initiatives to combat COVID-19, protect the New Yorkers who we serve, and ensure anyone who needs it is connected immediately to care or to isolation — and the use of commercial hotels is central to this work.”