Shelter residents who have been housed at a New York City hotel due to the pandemic could be moved to another hotel as soon as Monday as an opposing neighborhood groups against the move take the fight to court.
The city’s Department of Homeless Services has not confirmed the move but at least two ongoing lawsuits may stand in the way of the plan for now. Local leaders and homeless advocates are expected to gather in front of the Lucerne Hotel Monday morning to speak out against moving unhoused individuals who have been placed in the Upper West Side neighborhood since July.
Advocates with the UWS Open Hearts have been fighting the past few months against moving shelter residents, citing health concerns amid the COVID-19 as well as depriving residents, many of whom are men of color dealing with mental health and substance abuse problems, of much-needed services and a supportive community. The New York Post reported Sunday that three Lucerne residents have filed a lawsuit to stop the movie, citing possible “massive psychological damage.”
Shelter residents who have been housed at a New York City hotel due to the pandemic could be moved to another hotel as soon as Monday as opposing neighborhood groups against the move take the fight to court. NBC New York’s Katherine Creag reports.
NBC New York has reached out to the city for comment and further details.
One shelter resident who identified himself only as Emmanuel told NBC New York Monday that he personally thinks the Upper West Side is a good area and he hasn’t seen a lot of trouble. But he says some residents do want to move to a bigger space.
“A lot of people are working. Me, I’m working. I’m doing construction. I don’t really see why we should move, but if we do move, I don’t see a problem either,” Emmanuel said.
The city’s Department of Homeless Services had previously halted plans to move the residents but last month confirmed that they will be moved to another building in the wealthy Financial District that’s to be converted to the first-ever traditional shelter in the area. The plan received immediate criticism from a neighborhood group and last week, Downtown New Yorkers Inc. filed a lawsuit against the city to stop over 200 shelter residents from moving into the Radisson hotel at 52 William Street.
Homeless Population Housed at Upper West Side Hotel Will Be Relocated, Group Says
The downtown neighborhood group’s complaints are the same as the complaints of another UWS neighborhood group who wanted unhoused individuals to move out of the upscale neighborhood. Christopher Brown, the group’s COO of Petitioner, said in the affidavit that he has observed “an increase in adult homeless men gathering in or around the outdoor plaza located outside of my building” and seen men engaging in drug use in public since another hotel in the neighborhood was converted to a temporary shelter over the summer.
“Given the lack of planning, community engagement and the arbitrary nature
of the decision, I am concerned about my safety and security, and that of my neighbors, given my experiences with the homeless population after the initial move of adult men into the Hilton at 6 Water, and in light of the widely reported difficulty the Upper West Side community had when these men initially moved into the Lucerne Hotel,” Brown said.
It’s not the first time the city is facing a lawsuit over shelter residents. In August, a group of Upper West Siders threatened to sue the city if it doesn’t move Renewal shelter residents out of the Lucerne. Shortly after, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his decision to move the shelter, and homeless advocates like UWS Open Hearts say the mayor caving in to wealthy NIMBYs has emboldened others like the downtown group.
Corrinne Low of the UWS Open Hearts has said de Blasio’s move to displace shelter residents is a form of segregation and that it will slow the path to racial justice and equality.
“Neighborhoods are resources: Neighborhoods are jobs, are community support, are networks, are engines of economic opportunity. And when you exclude a group of people from neighborhoods to keep it for yourself and people who look like you, you ensure resources stay in the hands of the powerful,” Low said last month in reaction to the move.