20% of NYC Hotels Are Now Illegal Migrant Shelters


Summer tourists in New York City are encountering unprecedented lodging expenses as hotels across the city are being converted into housing for migrants.

The average cost for a hotel room in the city in 2023 has reached a record-breaking $301 per night, marking an 8.5 percent increase from 2022. This price surge is largely attributed to the city’s extensive effort to provide shelter for the large number of illegal migrants arriving in the city.

A recent amendment to Gotham’s “right to shelter” policy now permits adult illegal migrants under 23 to stay in city-run shelters for up to 60 days. Previously, migrants were allowed 30 days of government-subsidized housing, with the option to reapply for an extended stay.

The city compensates hotels for hosting thousands of migrants, leading to a shortage of available lodging and inflated prices for visitors. The spiraling hotel costs stem directly from this government-induced scarcity — with fewer rooms available, prices naturally increase, particularly during the peak summer tourism season. Adding to this, hotels have eagerly seized the city’s migrant-housing subsidy over the past few years, especially after the government’s Covid lockdowns severely reduced travel and their revenue. While NYC tourism has fully rebounded, hotel availability has not kept pace.

“New York City has led the nation in responding to a national humanitarian crisis, providing shelter and care to approximately 183,000 new arrivals since the spring of 2022. However, we have made it clear from day one that the ‘Right to Shelter’ was never intended to accommodate a population larger than most U.S. cities descending on the five boroughs within less than two years,” stated New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

In October 2022, NYC’s Department of Homeless Services issued a memo seeking “appropriately qualified vendor(s) to identify and operate units for the City Sanctuary Facilities (‘Facilities’) programs that will be used to house asylum-seeking families and individuals in New York City.”

By November, over 16,000 hotel rooms were reportedly being used to house migrants and other homeless individuals. That’s 140 hotels out of the market for travelers. As CoStar reports, most of these hotels are classified as “midscale or economy,” the type commonly chosen by middle-class Americans for a trip to the Big Apple. Tourists are thus pushed to select more expensive lodging options, and with fewer hotels available, demand and prices rise across the board.

According to the city’s Department of Homeless Services, sanctuary hotels also offer various social amenities. Many provide bilingual operational support services, including child care, job training, computer access, personal care items, and laundry service. Migrants also have access to trauma or mental health counseling.

In essence, illegal migrants are accessing “free” services at these “free” hotel shelters while many Americans face financial struggles. The program seems reminiscent of socialist-style government projects, compelling American taxpayers to fund these services for unwelcome border crossers.

The New York Times reports that NYC signed a $980 million contract for its “Sanctuary Hotel Program” — “which runs until Aug. 31 and is likely to be renewed.”

Kamden Mulder is a summer intern at The Truth Voices. She is a senior at Hillsdale College pursuing a degree in American Studies and Journalism.

Kamden Mulder
Kamden Mulder

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