With the coronavirus pandemic leaving hotels without guests, a few hotels in New York City’s Upper West Side have welcomed homeless residents temporarily. It is a great initiative, but it recently attracted negative press after the New York Post reported that “crime and chaos” had overtaken the neighborhood since homeless New Yorkers moved in.
But when Curbed writer Valeria Ricciulli visited the area to see what the fuss is all about, she saw a very different picture than what the tabloid stories may have you believe. Speaking with the homeless residents, she saw that most people were simply trying to exist without a home while trying to find work.
Ricciulli saw women passing in front of the hotel dropping off $5 gift cards for the hotel residents so they can buy snacks and drinks. She also found empathetic messages scribbled in chalk on the sidewalks such as “everyone is welcome on the UWS” and “love thy neighbor.”
For Roberto Mangual, a 27-year-old who has been living at the luxury hotel Belleclaire since June, the chalk messages are a gesture he’s never seen in the two years he’s been homeless. “It feels nice to feel accepted,” he says.