Shocking: NYC Mayor Says Half Of City’s Hotel Rooms Now Housing Asylum Seekers

New York City Mayor Eric Adams says that half of the hotel rooms in the city are being used to house asylum seekers. And you wondered why rates were so high in the city for the rooms that are left?

NYC Mayor Eric Adams said 50% of city hotel rooms are currently filled by asylum seekers — and the city is having a hard time finding any other room at hotels for them.

“Almost 50% of those hotel rooms are being taken up by migrant asylum seekers, that we’re paying for,” Adams said. “So instead of money coming from people who are visiting us and spending and our tourism and our Broadway plays, instead of them using those hotels, we are using those hotels.”

He said the city has reached out to hotels and many say they don’t want to get into the shelter business.

“Many of them are going to price points that is just too high for tax payers to pay,” Adams said. “Many of them are not suitable for housing or migrants.”

He complains that instead of net revenue for the city from out-of-towners, this is a net cost to the city.

The math, though, is implausible since the city reports that there are fewer than 40,000 asylum seekers in the city, since that’s less than 30% of available hotel rooms, and they aren’t all being housed in hotels.

Still, between homeless and refugees an increasing number of low-end properties are being used to house people by the city – and even relatively better hotels are being converted for this purpose. The Hilton JFK will become an affordable housing complex. The 50% number may not be right, but the magnitude of the challenge – financial, and opportunity cost – is real.

Doubling the problem of course is that New York is making it increasingly costly to open new hotels. So while they’re taking hotel rooms out of inventory, it’s challenging to add more, and especially challenging to add more at lower price points where rooms are being removed. That prices out tourists and even some business travel.

New York City is going to be facing a series of challenges that are likely to get worse. New York City has maybe 90% of its office real estate financially under water. With return to office still limited, there’s a lot of companies that may need less space going forward. And fewer office workers mean fewer people supporting surrounding businesses during the day. People that have moved out of the city mean fewer taxpayers.

Overall they’re facing increasing demands for services against a reduced tax base. That will stain services and push people out even more. But it could make New York more affordable over time, even if a bit grittier. Maybe even a return to its creative peak 50 years ago – great for art and artists, but bad for those relying on city government. An and to the anesthetized culture that followed the rise of pure finance, maybe a shift to more of a Berlin in the early to mid-aughts if they play this right? That is the positive case, at least…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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