From the NY Post:
The city's underground network of illegal hostels has exploded -- even cropping up in church-owned buildings and a battered women's shelter, according to the West Side Neighborhood Alliance, which has compiled a database of 284 mostly hostel-style hotels they claim are illegal.
Also, say activists, the hostels are so crowded they're unsafe.
"The overcrowding is horrific," said Tom Cayler, an Alliance leader. "If there is a fire, it would be Happy Land all over again" -- a reference to the 1990 Bronx social-club fire that killed 87 people.
Near the top of the Alliance's list of dangerous hostels is Jazz on the Villa, which operates out of a picturesque, three-story house owned by Christ Temple of Apostolic Faith on West 129th Street in Harlem.
The house, built in the 1920s as a convent, is the headquarters of Jazz Hostels, a company accused of running several illegal hostels. Jazz on the Villa rents beds, starting at $15 per night, in Spartan rooms stacked with up to seven bunks.
The city vacated Jazz on the Villa last week because it was overcrowded, with only one exit for more than 100 people. And it was busted last month by the city Department of Finance for claiming tax-exempt status while banking up to $6,510 a month per room.
The Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement evacuated two more of Jazz Hostels' locations last month for overcrowding, including one in a building leased from the battered women's group Women in Need. The shutdowns covered three of the company's six hostels.