Neighbors Together advocates for homeless to stay in vacant hotel rooms during pandemic

April 7, 2020
New 12

Many advocacy groups are banding together to be a voice for the homeless population during the coronavirus pandemic and are asking that the city's hotel rooms be opened up for them. 

Winston Tokuhisa told News 12 he has been homeless since 2006.

“I think we need to recognize that we are the most vulnerable,” said Tokuhisa.

"We've known from the beginning it poses a real dangerous threat for many, many people living on the street or in a shelter," said Amy Blumsack with Neighbors Together in Central Brooklyn.

Neighbors Together is one of many organizations joining a call that some of the city's vacant hotel rooms should be opened up to homeless New Yorkers. 

“We think it is long overdue that the city take effort to find places for people to stay where they are really truly can safely social distance and not unknowingly pass COVID to each other or other vulnerable people,” said Blumsack. 

Communities United for Police Reform held a virtual conference bringing with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and local politicians to talk about ways to fix the problem. 

"We seem to be playing with this question of who deserves care,” said Williams. 

Blumsack told News 12 the daily shelter census shows 62,000 to 63,000 homeless New Yorkers. 

 "Given the way that our current healthcare system is extremely taxed and the way our health care workers are working so hard right now in New York City, we need to do everything we can to make sure that hospitals remain as untaxed as they can possibly be,” said Blumsack.