Exclusive: NYC Hotel Association says hotels housing migrants haven't been paid in months

Kristin Thorne Image
Friday, December 15, 2023
Migrant hotels haven't been paid in months, NYC Hotel Association says
Kristin Thorne investigates the delay in payments.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The 7 On Your Side Investigates team has learned exclusively that 110 hotels housing the migrants in New York City have not been paid by the city since early September, according to the Hotel Association of New York City.

"Nobody expected it would take this long to get paid," Vijay Dandapani, the head of the Hotel Association, told investigative reporter Kristin Thorne.

Dandapani said the hotels are owed collectively $130 million.

Dandapani said every day his team fields phone calls from frustrated hotel ownership and management asking for their money from the city for housing the migrants.

"You will get paid," Dandapani said he tells them. "It's not a question of if, but it's a question of when."

Eyewitness News reached out numerous times to the Mayor's office to verify the information provided by the Hotel Association on Thursday, but multiple press representatives did not respond.

The New York City Comptroller said the city's Department of Homeless Services did not timely seek approval of the one-year extension of the hotel contract. The city would not confirm the information with us.

Dandapani said this is the first time that hotels housing the migrants have experienced a delay in payment.

He believes the payments have been delayed because as the migrant crisis wears on, the hotel costs are exceeding what the city budgeted.

Dandapani said some hotel owners are telling him they are considering dropping out of the program.

Dandapani said he hopes the hotels will be paid by mid-January.

Eyewitness News spent weeks reaching out to hotels housing the migrants to speak with them about the delay in payments, but none got back to us.

On Friday, a spokesperson with the Department of Social Services got back to Eyewitness News and released the following statement:

"Since last spring, New York City has managed a national crisis largely on its own, opening over 210 emergency sites to care for the more than 150,000 asylum seekers who have come to us seeking shelter and services. DSS is committed to paying our contractors for their services in a timely manner after receiving all required documents. If payments are ever delayed, we work closely with everyone involved to quickly rectify the situation and pay any and all outstanding invoices. We are incredibly grateful for our contractors and vendors who have stepped up in the face of this unprecedented crisis to provide essential capacity and services to those in need."


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