New York City again pauses plan to move homeless from Lucerne Hotel

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Monday, October 19, 2020
NYC pauses plan to move homeless from hotel again
Diana Rocco has more on City Hall pausing its plan to move homeless residents out of the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side.

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- City Hall is pausing its plan to force homeless residents out of a hotel on the Upper West Side after three men asked a judge to stop the move.

The judge issued a temporary restraining order against the city from relocating 235 people living in the Lucerne Hotel.

They were supposed to be moved to a former Radisson Hotel in Lower Manhattan Monday, but the three men sued, saying the move would cause them "massive psychological damage" ad "irreparable harm."

"They've been moving around so many times, they were thriving here," attorney Jason Zakai said. "They didn't know what would await them if they go downtown to a totally new place. They've come to rely on programs here."

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In the meantime, the city will go ahead with moving other homeless to the former Radisson, but not those from the Lucerne.

"The reality here is we need to get people into long-term shelters, not temporary hotels," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "The temporary hotels were about an immediate crisis. As we can move away from them, we need to, but we need to do it the smart way and the right way."

Additionally, City Council member Carolina Rivera and advocate groups held a rally Monday to keep homeless families in a another shelter in the Mave Hotel on Madison Avenue after the city notified some there they would also be moved.

They are now embroiled in their own lawsuit to stay until after their is a vaccine for COVID-19 or longer. Still, the city was pushing forward.

"On Monday morning, there will be individuals moving into the new facility, which has more space for services onsite and is located closer to medical care than the Lucerne," de Blasio spokesman Bill Neidhardt said. "Over the weekend, lawyers -- purporting to represent three of the more than 240 men currently at the Lucerne -- indicated they were going to court this weekend to stop the move. We will meet the lawyers in court, and we plan to prevail. In the meantime, we will continue our efforts to best support all New Yorkers currently experiencing homelessness."

Originally, the city had planned to move the homeless from the Lucerne to other shelters, but in earlier in September, they decided to pause that move.

The Lucerne has been the subject of controversy throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with neighbors and area residents complaining of a degradation to their quality of life. They gave fought to have the homeless moved, though the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless objected to the new plan.

Related: Homeless encampments line New York City streets, Cuomo calls it 'public health threat'

New York City and groups from Lucerne and Radisson will be back in court on November 16 waiting a final decision from the judge about whether Lucerne residents can stay permanently.


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