Comptroller Stringer Analysis: Cost of Hotel Room Shelters Soars by 33 Percent over Four Months
April 17, 2017
Commercial hotel room bookings for homeless New Yorkers has risen from $400,000 per day to $530,000 per day
More than 160 bookings were made for $400 per night or more, including 10 bookings for $549 per night
The average daily cost for commercial hotel bookings jumped 601% to $576,203 from November 2015 to February 2017
Comptroller Stringer calls for greater transparency from the Department of Homeless Services
(New York, NY) – Commercial hotel bookings for homeless New Yorkers have surged by 38 percent over a four-month period, with the City spending $530,000 per day as of February 28, 2017, according to a new analysis released today by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. The Comptroller’s analysis estimates that the number of individuals now being placed in commercial hotels by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has jumped by 33 percent to nearly 7,800 New Yorkers between October 2016 and February 2017.
Commercial hotel shelters often offer limited services, have limited privacy and lack kitchens. As such, they are largely inappropriate long-term solutions for families trying to get back on their feet. The City recently announced a goal to phase out commercial hotel rooms as a form of homeless shelter six years from now.
To ensure the City reaches that goal, openness and benchmarks are critical. Today, the Comptroller called for greater transparency from DHS and a more public approach to solving the challenge. Currently, the Department maintains a Data Dashboard – which has not been updated in over a year – and the Comptroller called on DHS to also share more information publicly on progress around reducing commercial hotel and cluster shelter use. The more transparent the process, the more likely it will be to succeed.
“Homeless New Yorkers don’t belong in hotels – this is a practice that has to end. Hotel Rooms are not only a Band-aid solution to a complex problem, but they’re also very expensive. If families are going to get back on their feet, we need to help get them the services they need,” Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “The rising costs are extraordinary, and we are calling for more transparency from the City because the more open we are about our challenges, the more likely we are to solve them. Openness will help deliver results.”
The new analysis shows:
- The cost of commercial hotel bookings for homeless New Yorkers surged from $399,604 on October 31, 2016 to $529,622 on February 28, 2017 – a 33 percent increase.
- The average daily cost for commercial hotel bookings has increased by 601%, rising from $82,214 in November 2015 to $576,203 in February 2017.
- The estimated number of homeless New Yorkers booked in commercial hotels per day soared from 5,881 to 7,790 – a 33 percent jump between October 31, 2016 and February 28, 2017.
- The total number of rooms booked per day from October 31, 2016 to February 28, 2017 rose by nearly 38 percent to 2,852, as the City has increased its reliance on commercial hotels to stem the overall crisis.
- The highest room rate was $549/night at a hotel near Times Square. DHS booked a block of 10 rooms at this rate for a stay on December 30, 2016.
- Daily booking totals exceeded $600,000 twice in December 2016, peaking at an all-time high of more than $648,000 on December 30, 2016.
- Between November 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017, there were a total of 162 room bookings for $400/night or higher in five different Manhattan hotels.
Comptroller Stringer has laid out a series of measures that could help mitigate the City’s homeless crisis, including the creation of a New York City land bank that could help to transform some 1,100 City-owned vacant lots identified in a previous audit into more than 50,000 permanently affordable units. The Comptroller has also called for setting aside more NYCHA apartments for families with children who are currently housed in commercial hotels to confront the escalating crisis.
The new data released today updates figures on commercial hotel spending released in a report in November 2016 that covered the period between November 1, 2015 and October 31, 2016.
A recent investigation by Comptroller Stringer’s Office found that the number of homeless children three-years-old and younger placed in commercial hotels skyrocketed 224 percent during the summer of 2016 – despite the fact that they have no on-site child care services at all.