Some homeless residents refuse to move from Midtown hotel

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Days after the city evicted homeless residents from the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side, some homeless residents are refusing to move from a hotel in Midtown.

Residents of the Four Points by Sheraton Midtown on 40th Street held a press conference Friday and said they plan to stay at the hotel.

Their protest even got the attention of mayoral candidate Maya Wiley who said the city needs to do better.
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.

"We are homeless, we are not animals," homeless resident Peter Trapani said.

They say the vaccination rate for the homeless is significantly lower than NYC residents which puts them at risk as well as possibly causing the spread of the Delta variant.

"You're not going to want to leave this place to go to a congregate shelter that is dangerous," homeless advocate Shams DaBaron.

Residents have told community advocates that moving them to the city outskirts often takes them further from work, as well as their support system of friends and family. If they are to be moved, they assert, it should not be to another shelter, but to a permanent apartment.

"It's only going to increase the number of people who are on the streets because they're avoiding shelter, that is not public safety," Wiley said.

Mayor Bill De Blasio said it was only a temporary step toward permanent housing, when he made the announcement two weeks ago.

"We're talking about approximately 8,000 New Yorkers who are now in 60 hotels," de Blasio said. "We're going to start the process of moving folks back to shelters."

The Sheraton wasn't the first hotel to clear out its temporary residents and at least two more will have to be vacated next week.

Advocates like Wiley say adding to the danger is that only 14% of the city's homeless population has been fully vaccinated.

"Most of us know that once you take the vaccine, they're going to use it as an excuse to put you in one of those congregate death traps," DaBaron said.

DaBaron says he's been vaccinated but understands the mistrust. He and Wiley say that's why the city needs to make the move to supportive housing happen fast.

"Because with those services will also come relationships and trust, so we can get more folks vaccinated," Wiley said.

The City Council did recently approve an increase in housing subsidies, which while still months away, could be a big help to those experiencing homelessness.

"The way things are going today, it can happen to anybody," homeless resident Roscoe Moses said.

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