I was torn over this. The Radisson JFK always struck me as likely around the upper range of what most homeless shelters are like. Which is really just saying it’s about average for a hotel near JFK airport. Customers don’t like staying in hotels where the largest in-house group are homeless, but I do think they have a right to stay on property if the going rate is being paid for their accommodations.
Credit: Radisson JFK
In fact thousands of New York homeless are being put up in hotels — and they don’t even get good rates. In fact they pay a premium over other guests even though the city books up to 70 room blocks for months at a time. New York’s city government must not be booking direct.
You’d think they would use a corporate booking code, surely with their volume they could do as well as an IBM rate? Or just search for a deal at Trivago.
New York City spent $72 million on hotel rooms for the homeless last year. In fairness, cost comparisons suggesting possible savings are to a hotel’s lowest available rate which may offer limited inventory, not for half a property’s inventory on a given night.
And given the reputational costs to a hotel, the hit they may take with other guests, it’s not unreasonable to think they’d demand a premium (not to mention the premium for working with and billing the city).
Now one City Council member has introduced legislation that would require hotels to notify other guests when accepting the city’s homeless. (HT: Alan H.)
[T]he Comfort Inn and the Days Inn & Suites on Redding Street in Ozone Park had homeless people moved in late last year, and city documents state the former might see all of the rooms be used as temporary shelters.
“The public has a right to know whether or not that hotel or that motel is also being used as a temporary homeless shelter,”
…At press time, the number of homeless people staying in city shelters was at 58,803, according to the Department of Homeless Services. That’s down from more than 60,000 earlier this year.
The goal seems to be to embarrass Mayor de Blasio and to “‘scare the daylights’ out of hotel owners profiting off the homeless crisis.” Put another way, hotel owners won’t want to house the homeless if they have to announce they’re doing it. Which seems like a bad idea without an alternate plan for housing the homeless in place.
And I don’t think guests generally have a right to know who else is staying at a hotel, just as no one has a right to know that I am staying there. I was thrilled when the Supreme Court struck down a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotel records be made available to police upon request. When I sign a group contract, I don’t think the hotel should or should have to notify other guests, and that the group in this case is of people without homes doesn’t change that.
Perhaps this Council member ought to have the city teach the homeless to sign up for credit cards and use the bonuses to stay at Marriotts. Or pick up an Amtrak credit card, book a sleeper car with the points and just stay onboard as a stow away.
Copyright: tdezenzio / 123RF Stock Photo
A complementary strategy would be to save up collecting cans in the airport and buy the cheapest changeable business class ticket possible and eat free for a year like this guy did, and even have access to complimentary showers.
The problem of homelessness is a difficult one. The moral question of housing them alongside hotel guests is a challenging one. Using the issue as a political football seems wrong.