Initiative welcomes homeless 'with open arms' on Upper West Side

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Once a luxurious hotel, the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side is now turned into a home for the homeless.

"We want to provide the appropriate services, so they can get back on track with their lives," says Upper West Side resident Larry Wood.

Wood is part of the Open Hearts Initiative, welcoming the homeless with open arms, and raising money and other household items.

ALSO READ | Upper West Side residents furious, considering suing city over homeless increase

"People in shelters are already taking a step to accept help," said Corrine Low.

While many agree they do, some say their presence has turned the Upper West Side upside down.

"Fornication, urination - public defecation, you name it," says Dana Luttway.

Luttway, a four-decade resident, has had it.

Roberto Mangual has a job and has lived in a homeless shelter for two years now.

"We weren't able to practice social distancing," he said.
Now, because of COVID, Mangual is in one of the three makeshift shelters, and he understands the concerns.

ALSO READ | Sex offender at Upper West Side hotel will likely extend their stay

"We do understand that there are people with mental health issues and drug problems, but these people are here because DHS put them here," Mangual adds.

Right now, the shelter is a temporary solution for the city - hopefully, the concerns are also temporary.

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