DHS pausing move of homeless from Upper West Side hotel

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- The Department of Homeless Services says it is pausing any moves from the Lucerne Hotel on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

David Banks, Commissioner of the DHS, and the head of the city's law department are reviewing transfers that aren't to permanent housing.

"As the Mayor said this morning, at this time, while Commissioner Banks and Corp Counsel Johnson are reviewing the situation, we are not moving any clients from these locations as part of this initiative (moves in the normal course, such as to permanent housing, for example, may proceed)," the DHS said in a statement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is going to look at what they should or should not be doing in hotels at this point.

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"We want to make sure that each person is treated with dignity," de Blasio said. "Again, I don't think a temporary hotel placement should be misunderstood as the ideal. I don't think it is the ideal. It was never meant to be the ideal. We got to get people to the right kind of location for them, so this is why the whole system is being looked at right now."

De Blasio said moving people to those hotels was a temporary measure because of the coronavirus, but he says as the city becomes healthier, "We now have an opportunity to get people back to the shelters where they can get more support."
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"In March, April, May, we needed to get folks who are homeless, out of shelters, simply because we needed people have more space and social distancing," he said. "The whole idea of the shelter system is to provide support to get people back on their feet to help address the mental health challenges and substance use challenges or whatever challenges people are facing. So they can then move forward and well over 100,000 New Yorkers who were homeless got to affordable housing during this administration."

The mayor added the city "will figure out quickly" on what next steps to take.

On Sunday, protesters expressed their outrage over de Blasio's handling of the homeless during the pandemic at Gracie Mansion.

The Upper West Side Open Hearts Initiative released a statement on the controversy.


A lawsuit has been filed over homeless being placed at three hotels on the Upper West Side.

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