April 16, 2020 By Allie Griffin
New York City will offer 11,000 free hotel rooms to New Yorkers who live in overcrowded households in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio said today.
The initiative, which begins next Wednesday, is targeted toward hard-hit communities where many impoverished families live in small overcrowded apartments.
“There are many people in multi-generational homes, particularly in lower income communities, that just don’t have a lot of space,” de Blasio said.
Overcrowded and densely-populated neighborhoods have seen a greater level of spread than other areas. Elmhurst and Corona, known for their density, have the highest number of COVID-19 cases in New York City, data shows.
Overcrowding is especially a concern for households that are multi-generational, the mayor said, as older relatives are more likely to die should they contract the virus.
The city’s public hospital staff and community health providers will identify people who qualify for a free room beginning next Wednesday.
They will offer hotel rooms to people in need who have tested positive for the virus; high risk individuals; and those symptomatic or exposed individuals who can’t socially distance in their homes.
The effort will help ease some of the economic disparities faced by communities in light of the pandemic, de Blasio said.
“We’re seeing some real disparities in how this horrible disease is affecting our city,” the mayor said.
“We’re seeing some places hit particularly hard; we’re seeing lower income communities hit particularly hard; we’re seeing communities where people have not gotten enough healthcare historically hit hard; communities of color hit very hard; immigrant communities hit hard — so we’re making additional adjustments to our approach.”
Free hotel rooms will also be offered to hospital workers and the homeless, he added.
Healthcare workers — whether or not they exhibit symptoms — can get a free hotel room if they wish to isolate away from their families for fear of infecting them.
The city is also using hotel rooms to house homeless New Yorkers, as shelters can not cater to the same number of people as before given the need for social distancing.
“This is something that’s going to help us protect people and slow the spread further,” de Blasio said.