NYC 'homeless hotel' owners got $12.5M in rebates, plus tax breaks

Owners of New York City hotels that were converted into homeless housing saved $12.5 million in rebates – in addition to tax breaks – in the most recent tax cycle, according to a report.

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The owners of 44 “homeless hotels” received the money through the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program, in addition to the subsidies they receive for housing the homeless, the New York Daily News reported, citing details from a New York Hotel Trades Council analysis.

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The ICAP program is funded through the New York City Department of Finance, with the purpose of providing rebates to eligible “industrial and commercial buildings that are modernized, expanded, or otherwise improved,” according to a webpage for the program. A spokesperson for the department did not immediately provide FOX Business with a comment.

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Homeless hotel owners have saved upward of $30 million in rebates since 2015, according to the report.

Unidentified New York homeless people sleeping in a subway station in Manhattan, New York City (Getty Images)

The program is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration’s effort to gradually eliminate the use of cluster apartments – or privately owned housing complexes – and hotels to house the homeless, the outlet reported.

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“We’ve implemented a top-to-bottom transformation of the haphazard shelter system and set forward a clear multi-year plan for finally ending the stop-gap use of hotels as shelter altogether, which dates back to the 1960s,” said City Hall spokesperson Avery Cohen in a statement provided to the Daily News.

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Despite that the ICAP program was originally intended to have a “boundary commission” to monitor where and how the program should be utilized, the group has not had a meeting in more than four years, George Sweeting, deputy director of New York City’s Independent Budget Office, told the outlet.

“Many New Yorkers question whether city tax break programs really deliver the promised benefits,” IBO spokesman Doug Turetsky said, according to the News. “Providing tax breaks to the owners of some of the same hotels where the city is spending millions of dollars to shelter the homeless seems like a prime example of a tax break gone awry.”

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