Coronavirus Update NYC: Backlash grows over mayor's plan to move homeless back to shelters

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City leaders are speaking out against the mayor's plan to move homeless people out of hotels and back into shelters.

"My homeless brothers and sisters who are now facing eviction to be placed in what I call congregate death traps," homeless advocate Shams Debaron said.

As New York City has begun moving the homeless from city hotels, advocates are still digging their heels into the ground to try to stop it.

"People that are in these hotels ain't trying to go back there," Debaron said. "They're not trying to go back because we know pre-pandemic those places were unsafe and inhumane."

RELATED | Judge pauses transfer of disabled homeless New Yorkers from hotels to shelters
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The ruling temporarily pauses the transfer of homeless disabled New Yorkers from hotel rooms back to crowded local homeless shelters.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams was joined by the undomiciled who have lived in the Lucerne Hotel, along with advocates, to implore the city to pass legislation that would expand the rental voucher program and provide access to permanent housing.

He says the city should be looking at permanent solutions like this, not stop-gap measures like city shelters. And he says there's even greater COVID concerns because of the delta variant.

"I'm here to say no one should be moved at this time with the current uncertainty. We're moving in the wrong direction folks," Williams said.

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Some got on a bus in the morning, but others have locked themselves in their rooms and say they are not moving back to the congregate shelters.

But the city says anyone in a shelter should get vaccinated as the city will continue to provide support for the underlying causes of homelessness, like physical mental and health challenges.

"And we have been persistently making vaccination available to all people who are in any of our facilities, and we will continue to do so," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "So, we're convinced that is the right approach."

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