NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Advocates for New York City’s homeless population have filed a lawsuit against the city over the risks of contracting COVID-19 inside shelters across the five boroughs.
The lawsuit says the shelters are still far too crowded, despite efforts taken by the city to reduce capacity, putting many homeless people at risk for contracting coronavirus.
Advocates say there are far too many shared spaces where the virus can easily spread.
“They have to share bathrooms and sleeping areas and dining facilities,” says Josh Goldfien, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society.
The suit calls on the city to offer a single hotel room for anyone who wants one.
“We have still tens of thousands of empty hotel rooms in New York City and the federal government will pay for most of the cost of using those rooms,” Goldfien said.
He notes that the death rate from COVID-19 is higher in shelter than in the general population.
The lawsuit comes amid a controversy on the Upper West Side, in which residents have been calling on the city to relocate over 200 homeless men living the Lucerne Hotel.
While the calls from resident have been mounting, on Monday, a judge granted a temporary restraining order, preventing the city from relocating the homeless men.
WCBS 880 has reached out to the city for comment.