NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Even before the pandemic started, the homelessness problem in New York City was the worst it has been since the Great Depression.
As the numbers of homeless men and women continue to increase along with positive COVID cases, the city is working to transition them out of temporary hotel shelters and back into traditional shelters.
When COVID first hit, the city turned hotels into housing to keep people at a safe distance.
It was a $600 million plan to house men, women and families at more than 60 different hotels.
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Now, they're in the process of working to move some of them from private rooms and back into congregate shelters with multiple people in one space.
A city spokesperson told WABC they are on track to have no more families with children in commercial hotels by the end of the year, and to reduce the number of hotels in use overall.
They're committed to ending the use of commercial hotels as shelters as part of the city's "Turning the Tide" plan.
"Now we are once again seeing, as rates are rising, many people who are single adults and in shelters are now facing the next phase of the pandemic," said Jacquelyn Simone, of the Coalition for the Homeless. "In congregate dorms as opposed into, ideally, the safety and security of their own housing."
For many shelter residents, it's not about where they're staying, it's about staying put long enough to get back on their feet.
"I hope I get the proper help I need and the services so I can move forward," said Bernadette, a shelter resident who was staying at a hotel shelter in the Bronx before getting moved over the past week.
They say having a consistent address is important,.
"When you're applying for jobs, you have to put down the address of where you're currently at," recently relocated shelter resident Natasha Bryant said. "So God forbid if they change you over, now you've got to go and change your address. And if your mail is going to that old address, you're not getting any of that mail."
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While the number of homeless families has gone down, the amount of homeless single men and women has risen since the pandemic start from 16,048 in 2019 to 18,012 this year.
And with the eviction moratorium expiring next month, those numbers could get even higher.
"We are all concerned about what the coming weeks and months means for homelessness and housing insecurity in New York," Simone said. "I hope that the next administration comes in with a greater recognition that housing is the answer to homelessness and treats this crisis like the crisis that it is and with a greater sense of urgency."
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