Some Homeless Residents Coming to UWS Hotel are Being Transferred from Another Hotel Where Drug Use Continued, Resident Says

By Carol Tannenhauser

Some of the homeless men being transferred to The Lucerne Hotel on 79th Street this Monday are being moved from another hotel where there was friction with local residents, according to one of the homeless men.

The man, who goes by the name “Da Homeless Hero” and asked that we not use his formal name, says that there are many active drug users at the hotel and he is concerned that a similar situation will occur on the Upper West Side.

Da Homeless Hero.

On Thursday, Councilmember Helen Rosenthal and Project Renewal — the nonprofit that runs the shelter — announced that the men would be moved to The Lucerne, a hotel at 201 West 79th Street at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue on Monday. The men are coming from two East Village shelters — the Kenton Hall Men’s Shelter and the Third Street Men’s Shelter — both of which work with men dealing with drug addiction.

But some are not coming directly from those shelters, according to Da Homeless Hero. Instead they are coming from the Washington Jefferson Hotel on West 51st Street.

And there appears to have been tension with the community there. A real estate broker was fired a few weeks ago after confronting people who were standing in front of the hotel. The broker apparently rolled — or “threw,” according to a block association president — beer bottles at them. “I would just like to take a simple walk with my dog to the Dunkin’ Donuts, but now every day that walk requires stepping over multiple beer bottles, a used syringe, and a dirty condom,” the broker, Scott Sobol, told The Post. Another resident of the building that includes the hotel told ABC News that she now travels with pepper spray when she leaves her apartment.

Da Homeless Hero, who is 51 years old and has “struggled with homelessness” all his life after growing up in the foster care system, confirmed that there has been tension in that neighborhood. (Documents he sent to the Rag confirm he is a resident there.) “Things didn’t work out in the community,” he wrote in an email to the Rag.

DHS and Project Renewal “have pulled the wool over your eyes and led you to believe that you are receiving 283 men in recovery,” he wrote in a comment on our original story. “That is a lie. Most of those coming are active drug users who would rather stay where they at doing what they know than to go to a new area where they have to find out where to get their drugs, and where they can use without being bothered by law enforcement. The shelters we’re coming from are drug dens and the surrounding area is a haven for drugs. It won’t take long before they adapt to your community and find a way to make that a comfortable place to do what they’ve been doing. Substance use disorder is a complex issue and without proper treatment you can’t expect a change of venue to be the cure all.”

Da Homeless Hero says that there were considerable community complaints, and property destruction at the hotel.

“The DHS representative explained that it’s difficult to find placement for us and if we mess this one up, we may have no choice but to return back to the shelters,” he wrote.

DHS and Project Renewal did not respond to requests for comment over the weekend. The Washington Jefferson Hotel also did not respond to requests for comment.

WSR sent the comment to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who wrote back: “Thx I am very aware…” Brewer said she is gathering information and plans to speak more with the Rag about the issue. Asked for comment, Councilmember Helen Rosenthal referred the Rag to Project Renewal.

Da Homeless Hero said he appreciates Project Renewal’s services, and the organization has helped people committed to recovery such as himself. He explained more of his story to us.

“I’m a product of the foster care system since the age of two years old,” Da Homeless Hero wrote. “I was on the streets by the age of 10 and discharged ironically by the age of 12/13 years old. I’ve struggled with homelessness throughout my life.”

“I am a resident of the shelter system under Project Renewal and lived in Kenton Hall (a congregate shelter) up until two months ago. I was transferred to the Washington Jefferson Hotel in an effort to maintain social distancing, which is nearly impossible in the dorm-style settings at the downtown shelters. I am currently in recovery and I attend Project Renewal’s Recovery Center located in their 3rd Street building. I’ve committed to receiving treatment, which Project Renewal is great at providing. I look forward to obtaining supportive housing hopefully in the Bronx.

“I’m one of the outspoken shelter residents who write in a newsletter we produce at the Recovery Center. I write under the name of Da Homeless Hero. My objective is to give a voice to those of us residing in the shelter system and to initiate change for the better.

“I fought to be moved from the shelter to a hotel because I grew tired of the constant overdoses, the open-air drug market, among other things. I’ve never lived like that despite my being homeless…”

“My objective is to give a voice to those of us residing in the shelter system.”

The city has been moving residents from congregate shelters to private hotels throughout the five boroughs since the pandemic began, as part of a plan to stem the spread of the coronavirus among this high-risk population. As of a month ago, 139 out of NYC’s 700 hotels — 20% — were occupied by people who are homeless, according to NY1.

“It’s keeping some cash flow going for the hotels, (and) we were there. We stepped up when the city had a need,” Vijay Dandapani, the leader of the city’s Hotel Association, said. “Why this happened? They are in shelters in a congregate settings that is arguably, or most definitely, not good for them from a pandemic standpoint. So here they are in individual rooms, you are reasonably well-protected from the virus.” In April, the association landed a $78 million initial contract to find hotels for the homeless. At the time, coronavirus raged across the city. The city’s hotels saw no sign their business would return anytime soon. So the booking started.

Multiple shelter residents living in hotels told NY1 they were told to expect to stay in these new locations for about six months.  (DHS Commissioner Steven) Banks told us there is no move-out date.

‘We are going to be governed by public health concerns, and at the point at which it is safe to resume operations of congregate shelters and stop using commercial hotels, we will do that,’ Banks said.

The city receives 75% of the money for the hotels from FEMA. The city still has to pay for other costs, including services.

NEWS | 129 comments | permalink
    1. Jessica says:

      This makes it even more important to get behind these human beings, and show them that we are on their side.

      • Peter says:

        We do. Every day. We pay for their “lifestyle” . Generously and indefinitely. While also employing – generously and indefinitely – a whole slew of otherwise useless bureaucrats who can’t even be bothered to inform us or discuss with us as a community what the addition of 283 addicts will do a residential neighborhood full of young children.

        But please educate me on what more I can be doing. Maybe …if only … i had been asked on time….

        • LivableCity says:

          Just curious, Peter (and others) – what gives you the right to consider and maybe approve a city supported program moving a couple hundred people into a community of several hundred thousand people where there is ample space? We all live here. In life threatening health emergencies sometimes moves just need to happen to try to help vulnerable populations. You sound like it might disrupt your Feng Shui because someone forgot to bow in your general direction.

          • Peter says:

            Yes, we all live here. Under a social contract. The social contract that governs how we spend our city’s resources, i.e., tax dollars, time and effort. The same contract that forces is to have community board hearings to determine whether the addition of a 2×2 ft coffee table to a sidewalk cafe is appropriate or unnecessarily infringing on someone’s rights or safety. Or commit vast city resources to establish that a new building can be 14 stories but not 15. Or conduct a myriad of surveys and assessments and public hearings to determine the impact of adding a science wing to a museum.

            The same social contract under which matters that may reasonably be expected to affect the quality, safety of life here should be debated, given due consideration, and those most likely to be impacted should be able to voice their opinions. Not swept under the rug by unknown and unaccountable city bureaucrats on a Friday-for-Monday basis.

            Vulnerable population? Vulnerable to what? The covid-19 that the City claims to have under complete control? What was the spread and impact on these men at the peak of the crisis? How did they protect them then? Why now, at its supposed nadir?

            • JerryV says:

              I support Peter in this. And I support the right of responsible people (like “Da Homeless Hero”) to join us in our community but not irresponsible, committed drug addicts and sex offenders to join us.

          • Civics 101 says:

            You undermine your comment with a juvenile (and dated) personal attack, livable city.

            Have you head the term “no taxation without representation?” Let me break it down for you:

            Peter pays taxes. Peter gets to have his voice heard.

            I didn’t hear him, or anyone else, “demand approval.” But in a democratic government, elected officials work for the people who elected them. They are obligated, by oath, to be transparent about developments that significantly impact the community, and to genuinely listen to and consider the concerns of the community they serve. It’s called “public servant” for a reason.

            Fascism, on the other hand, is the “forcible suppression of opposition and a strong regimentation of society and of the economy.” Like, you know, not having any say about what happens in your neighborhood.

          • Mike says:

            I have the right to know when, where and if a homeless shelter is going up in my neighborhood. This right stems from my being a taxpayer. I may not win in a fight to have other neighborhoods share equally in this burden, but I have a right to know what my government is doing.

          • Michael says:

            The right is called democracy and a democratic process. As a resident of a specific neighborhood you have a right to say and vote on what happens in your area that impacts you. This works both ways, just as people had a right to say on the developer of buildings that are too tall such as 200 Amsterdam Ave, you have a right to vote on a hotel being converted to something it was not intended for, a homeless shelter. How do you not understand that things work in a democracy, or is it only if they agree with your value system?

    2. CB7 please act now says:

      If neighbors of the WJ hotel in Hell’s Kitchen were able to organize themselves and have them moved, so can we! The sooner the better. How is Community Board 7 prepared to defend the UWS? We already have tons of bad examples by the Belleclaire and the Belnord and must not “wait and see” until this reaches a point of no return

      • CB7 do something! says:

        Yes. We are all ready for this movement. How do we proceed?

      • Jessica says:

        Can you provide more info about the bad examples of the Belnord please? I live on the same block and all I’ve noticed is a few men hanging out on the benches in the median on Broadway and 87th. They keep to themselves and don’t seem to cause any problems. I haven’t heard about any increases in crime and I haven’t noticed any trash, drugs, etc. Would love to be informed if I’m missing something I should be more concerned about.

        • Almost Former Upper West Sider says:

          Have you walked on 87th street between Broadway and Columbus? Several times I’ve seen two men sitting by the side of the doggy daycare on 87th/Columbus drinking out of paper bags and sitting directly on the sidewalk. I no longer will walk on 87th street to get to Central Park.

          • Jessica says:

            Is it because they are homeless that it’s an issue? Because with all the closures from Covid, I am seeing tons of people sitting outside drinking where they wouldn’t be allowed to before. It doesn’t bother me because these men aren’t being loud or obstructive in anyway. If I was being harassed in anyway or if there was an increase in crime, I could understand the concern. Like I said, I live on 87th so I walk past them many times a day.

    3. js says:

      Homeless families are being housed in midtown hotels – not a good place for children. No parks, food stores, libraries etc

      Why not put homeless families in residential area/West Side hotels?

      Why put single adults in a residential area?

      • lynn says:

        I think that would be preferable, but is it possible the SRO rooms are too small to accommodate a family with children?

    4. Hell’s Kitchen Resident says:

      Glad they are leaving my neighborhood. Good luck to the UWS.

    5. Les says:

      We understand that Marisa Maack, Helen Rosenthal’s Chief of Staff, played a role in negotiating this contract. Perhaps also in negotiating the contract for the Belleclaire, which has gifted our neighborhood with 15 registered violent sex offenders. Two questions. Whose interests, exactly, is Rosenthal representing? (I am, fyi, a lifelong Democrat.) And, can West Side Rag post links to the Lucerne and Belleclaire contracts?

      • A says:

        A member of my building’s board was in contact with Helen Rosenthal’s office and they claim that they were unaware of any of this happening until very recently. If what you say is true, then she is blatant lying to the community, and I believe that legal action could/should be taken against Helen Rosenthal.

        • Yes, she’s lying says:

          Yes. She is blatantly lying. If not, she’s an incompetent cardboard cut-out of a councilperson.

          Since she’s useless, can someone summarize what CB7 is doing, specifically? Is there an emergency meeting scheduled with them and/or Brewer or DHS’s Steven “there is no move out date” Banks and/or Project Renewal?

          How can residents come together to mobilize?

          • Anonymous says:

            Call Mark Diller at CB7 and demand a virtual public meeting. I have a call with him this week and I will do the same. The more voices and calls, the more of a response we will hopefully get.

      • Tim says:

        Hey There,

        Asking for a friend, Where did the 15 sex offender number come from?


        • Anon says:

          From the New York State Sex Offender Registry. If you go to it and do a search for zip code 10024 you’ll find 19 convicted sex offenders, with 15 of them living at the Belleclaire.

    6. Jan says:

      I keep saying maybe someone will do it
      We desperately need a Tiny House Village
      Complete with social services
      A TH cost approx $3000. a lot less
      than fees at the Lucerne
      Someone put this idea into motion and
      Save Our City!

      • Anonymous says:

        Great idea that I have studied for quite some time. There have been successful Tiny Home Communities throughout the country servicing homeless populations including Homeless Vets. Cost-wise its a perfect opportunity if we can find the land. Even if its transitional housing. Imagine that 78 millions given to that organization as a consultant fee to secure these hotels. All this money could build a Tiny House community that could safe for the homeless.

    7. Nycuws says:

      If the temporary residents follow the rules, fine. But as a community, we need to start documenting misbehavior around the temporary new shelters. The sort of behavior referred to in the news links in this article (shooting up drugs, drinking etc) will be unacceptable. If such brazenly bad choices are being made, we need to share them with the elected officials.

      • Lulu says:

        Good luck. Our area has been overwhelmed by drug traffic and crime (stabbings, assaults, break ins, property damage, mugging, sexual harassment) since this program began. DHS will tell you the malefactors are not from their shelter and even when you provide proof they are, nothing will be done.

    8. Natali says:

      This whistleblower is one of the men practically everyone was attacking when the first article about this was posted. While it’s true he may be confirming some of your fears, I think his decision to speak out is proof you shouldn’t make generalizations.

    9. Shelter worker says:

      I work in a shelter. While many of the guys are quite nice, some aren’t. Many have serious criminal records and theft is a constant in the shelter. The drug use, especially K2, and alcohol use in the shelters is rampant. I can only imagine what these hotels are going to look like when/if the city ever moves the homeless out.

    10. an admirer from afar says:

      what a hero! thanks for this great story

    11. Barbara R. says:

      People are saying we should act now. What should we do? Letters and calls to Rosenthal and Brewer are of no use! Maybe protests in front of the hotel? I am one person and can’t stand out there alone. Any suggestions?

    12. Mike says:

      Funny how the liberal community becomes bent out of shape when a policy affects them.

      Nevertheless, I am 100% against the hotel being converted into a shelter.

      • MAD says:

        OK, time to get serious. I just sent a link to this story as a tip to the NY Post. Whatever you think of that paper, DeBlasio & team pay attention. The homeless encampment on the LES just got cleared out after the Post ran the story. Power of the pen.

      • Amelia says:

        I am a lifelong registered Republican and not in favor of 300 in a community of schools. I’m tired of all this “liberal” shaming. Thus is a public safety issue. We are a community, and we need a say in matters that affect all of us.
        Suggest that we all write, call and email Fmrisenthal and Brewer so they know how their constituents feel. Like every day!

    13. MMRR says:

      Just like the bad old days on the UWS when the Lucerne was an SRO full of addicts , and needles were
      All over the street. Ditto for the Belleclaire.
      The Lucerne has had a very checkered past .

    14. uws27383919 says:

      as a girl that lives alone I do not feel safe knowing that there are these men living so close.

      • SMH says:

        Do you have any investment bankers in your building? They often like to snort coke and sleep around. My point is you fear these men but you could already be living amongst addicts with issues. If you’re so scared then get a roommate or move.

        • UWS parent says:

          What a stupid response to say to a woman who is expressing her fears because 200+ recovering drug addicts are moving in next door. For your reference, DHS moved quite a few Level 2/3 sex offenders into the Belleclaire. I’m voting republican next time. This is a public safety issue!

        • HelenD says:

          What a nasty comment to make to a young girl who’s trying to express her discomfort with this situation. Do you not understand how mental illness factors into all of this? Are investment bankers sleeping on the sidewalk covered in their own filth and screaming vulgarities and throwing things at you, and urinating on the street? Do you realize how many students have CHOSEN to live here because they wanted to study/live/work in NYC? it seems a lot of people have already forgotten about Tessa Majors. Your attitude is unfathomable.

        • Peter says:

          Please tell us more about investment bankers, especially those in homeless shelters, roaming the streets in drug-induced stupor, and/or level 2/3 registered sex offenders that live in your building.

    15. ben says:

      Good to know that Rosenthal is OK with out neighborhood literally being used as a dump. Da Homeless Hero is the hero we don’t deserve, for shedding light on the situation.

    16. Sasha says:

      Glad he spoke up. There needs to be protests and actions made. This is dangerous and they’re ruining a beautiful area of the city that we worked hard to pay for.

    17. Jane says:

      Can we imagine our concerns and our compassion and our commitments all guiding us toward a resolution of which we can be proud?

      What would a success look like among our community’s permanent residents (of which I am one), Project Renewal, our City, and the new residents?

      • Sandy says:

        I guess the people AND CHILDREN who get hurt by these people can be considered sacrificial, is that correct?

    18. Carly says:

      And this is why republicans want smaller government. If what Da Homeless Hero says is true, these addicts are not recovering, but are using. According to someone who works in a shelter who posted here, many are committing crimes, they are buying drugs, and they are stealing. So there you have it. A waste of taxpayer money and even worse now they are placed in a family neighborhood!

    19. Long time West Sider says:

      Our Super-Liberal West Side has become a small island of Homeless Shelters.

      Of course these people need help and should receive it, but this will cause further disintegration of our unique community, which is rapidly losing its residents-especially young families.

      Spread the shelters to other boroughs and equally to all areas of Manhattan.

      • Guin says:

        ITA. And what I fail to understand is why they have decided to house so many single men in our neighborhood (and now, recovering drug addicts). The UWS is primarily a residential neighborhood, full of families, young people, and seniors. I think we would have been far more welcoming had DHS decided to house homeless families, or perhaps women fleeing DV situations, at the Lucerne.

    20. DebbieZ says:

      Why is everyone so bent out of shape? It’s OK if the shelters are in someone else’s neighborhood but not yours? Isn’t that a little bit hypocritical? Not very left and liberal of you. Very confusing to an independent like myself. Do you want government programs and social programs but not when it affects you directly? It’s a very mixed message I’m getting.

      • Peter says:

        Because we have children.

        The mixed message you *think* you’re receiving is because you’re assuming that the folks on LES wanted or welcomed this shelter. I am willing to bet you that they did not, and that they suffered thru it just like we will.

        It’s not OK to have 283 addicts housed in ANY residential neighborhood, UNLESS that community SPECIFiCALLY decides, after due consideration, that this is in its best interest.

        There’s virtually no societal goal in terms of safety, prosperity, employment, addiction prevention or rehabilitation that will be achieved here. It’s a giant scam at our expense.

      • Steven says:

        Because this neighborhood is full of young children. One almost directly across the street at 79th & Amsterdam and another 1 block away on 78th between Amsterdam & Columbus. Should 283 homeless men who do drugs & are criminals be allowed to live for free in a fancy hotel only steps away from that?!

    21. Almost Former Upper West Sider says:

      Maybe we can schedule a Zoom meeting to brainstorm about ways to take our concerns forward/mobilize. We really need an attorney well versed in the law and our rights to information. Not sure what info we might be entitled to under the freedom of information act. Anyone have any other thoughts? I agree with protesting but would want NYPD support bc I’m not sure we’d be safe doing so.

      • Anonymous says:

        You should definitely come together and let your concerns be known to your local leaders, the Mayor, the Public Advocate and the Department of Homeless Services. You should also try to meet with Project Renewal officials to gain their cooperation. Your locals stores are going to be affected as well. Theft will go up, among other things. You will need to address these issue and prepare your community. Hold your officials accountable. And talk to the press. That will do more than anything.

        • RWC1005 says:

          Homeless people deserve to be sheltered.
          And having folks join us to live in our safe community is an excellent idea .
          Where should they go? Sounds like it’s being created with a large supportive staff .

          It’s an Embarrassment that so many people think it should be in someone else’s community, every community houses the homeless and drug users.

          It’s heart breaking to see so many people with so little.

      • Anon says:

        Zoom meeting is a good idea. Does anyone here know how to create one?

        • Uws needs change says:

          I will definitely be in the call!!! This is totally outrageous. Our elected officials clearly have no consideration for the safety and welfare of our community.

          Tell me when, where. I have also contacted our condo board and we need to consider legal action.

      • Adrian says:

        We must follow the tracks and piece it all together. Yes, under the Freedom of Information Act, we are entitled to all information regarding the the contract between the city agency and proprietor of the Lucerne. We are entitled to see the contract, its terms, and all records of discussions and negotiations regarding this matter.

        I am not arguing for or against the relocation of these individuals to hotels in our area, I simply believe that with full disclosure of the facts and details we will be able to better understand exactly how this came to be. I have a hard time believing that Rosenthal et al. are not benefitting from this in some way/shape/form. The lack of communication and transparency on such an important matter has every hint of being a corrupt political dealing from which from somebody, if not several, are benefitting directly for political/personal gain.

        They can scoff at these comments all they want and continue to dismiss it all as baseless accusations and assumptions, but until they face the community and provide complete transparency regarding these negotiations, they only reinforce these beliefs. The truth will come out, and when it does, those involved will be held accountable. This is 2020, and with the right tools and a little bit of curiosity, almost any information can be exposed. The collective power of the community is necessary in order to get to the bottom of this.

        • Helen is useless (again) says:

          Well said and 100% accurate, Adrian.

          I’ve called Helen’s office twice. Of course no return call. At the very, very least why isn’t she holding a meeting for the constituents she WORKS FOR to explain why a plan on this scale wasn’t discussed?

          • EconUWS says:

            I spoke with Helen this morning–she was on West 79th having an engaging conversation with residents on the sidewalk outside the Lucerne and I asked her if she would commit to holding a public meeting to provide residents with more information. She said she was “open” to the idea.

            You might want to follow up with her and others: their contact information is below in Comment 41.

    22. ConcernedUWSider says:

      Many of us want to be heard. We need Helen Rosenthal (AND her team) and Gale Brewer to face us and answer questions and commit to us, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

      No more shelters in 10023, 10024, and 10025! Enough already. Face us and answer our questions.

      I am tired of these ELECTED officials being able to avoid us.

      West Side Rag, thank you for staying on this homeless topic and please keep on it & post a community meeting once one is set up.

      There HAS to be a meeting after we are all calling and voicing our opinions.

      Mark Diller, can you help? Please get a meeting set up this week? Whether virtually or outside.

      • DebbieZ says:

        Does this mean, Gulp, that you’re going to vote Republican across-the-board in November? I think that’s what I’m hearing you say. We need to give social services to the people in need; we have to be open to everything and anything; NO wall, defund the police, just as long as it’s not in our neighborhood. Again, a bit hypocritical wouldn’t you say?

        • Concerned UWSider says:

          There are boatloads of social services on the UWS already being offered everyday and many do not accept them. We also have accepted more shelters than other Manhattan neighborhoods. Elected officials acknowledge this. That’s the point. Our elected officials need to care for their constituents ALSO and answer us when we have concerns.

    23. RWC10025 says:

      Where should these people go? What neighborhood?
      They deserve to be in a safe community too.
      It’s an outrage the lack of compassion.

      This hotel has a previous history of an SRO, maybe we would not be in this situation if all the people moved into the neighborhood and wanted to turn everything into a luxury building Housing the privileged .
      Once these hotels get tourist again or a developer to take over they dump the homeless residents.

      It might just be a short term solution to a lifelong problem for many of these folks .

      • William says:

        Why? Because according to the city’s own report, the UWS has 10 times as many homeless shelters as the city average…there is a fair share rule that is supposed to prevent this. That is fact

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          William, Can you please supply a link to this report?

          Reports I have seen, pre pandemic, show CB 7 not to be highest in facilities in Manhattan. That would be Harlem. CB 7 was in the middle.

          I think the city is just taking any hotels it can get during the pandemic. A lot of these comments are really nasty and derogatory towards the homeless, including substance abusers. That’s not going to win the argument.

          on the other hand, the numbers of homeless placed recently in a small area seems too high.

      • Sheryl Koppel says:

        There are over 3,000+ hotels available in the COMMERICAL district of midtown Manhattan. The UWS is way too residential. If they HAD to use a hotel for homeless here let it be for homeless FAMILIES. Sorry for the caps but I don’t think it’s sinking into the “what should we do we these people then” mentality. Just think. Obviously, @helenrosenthal is incapable of thinking and she has an alternative motive. $$$$

    24. Adrian says:

      I find it hard to believe that Helen Rosenthal and staff were uninformed about the decisions to relocate approximately 300 recovering drug addicts to a hotel that will be converted into a “temporary” shelter. For her or anybody to make that claim signals a total disregard for transparency and only further supports my belief that this stinks of corrupt agreements being made by city officials for personal and political gain.

      It is not optional for Helen Rosenthal to provide our community with answers and transparency. As an elected public official, she is accountable to the residents of the UWS. If we seek and demand answers, it is her obligation to provide them.

      Helen Rosenthal, we know you read this. If you have nothing to hide, then you will find a way to hold a public forum and answer our questions, even if it’s in a virtual format. A failure to do so is a failure to do the job for which you were elected.

      • B.B. says:

        Am not defending Helen Rosenthal, but to be fair she has no statutory authority over DHS. Commissioner Banks reports to and takes his marching orders from BdeB.

        The pair of them (BdeB and Banks) along with DHS in general have been very circumspect about plans for new shelters during most of BdeB’s administration, certainly past few years. They learned long ago if word gets out local communities will organize and fight against.

    25. Looking for peace says:

      238. That is a big number of addicts. Look at the crime coming out of the half way house on 83rd, the young woman that was assaulted under 2 years ago by a “recovering” addict. It only takes a small number to disrupt a community…with 238, the odds are not in our favor. Hope the next victim is no one you know?

    26. Frederic Boucher says:

      The UWS is a place full of little kids and families. Everyone has a right to a decent place to live, but at thee same time it is tough for families to have confront so much homelessness and related issues. There has to be a balance…seems UWS getting overcrowded this shelters. I have aaked someone from H. Rosenthal staff and basically got a cursory response…as in not my problem…I wonder whose is it?!

    27. Scott Sobol says:

      Please don’t say I threw bottles at homeless people. That is provably false and goes against everything I stand for. The Post article was an attempt to silence neighbors like myself who suddenly found themselves surrounded by constant crime, harassment and drug dealing. I’m happy to give a comment if you’d like to reach out. Everyone deserves a chance to heal and recover, but those who harass women and openly deal drugs infront if children should be in a a more secure environment. I’m at 917-502-2375. Scott Sobol, the real estate agent who is against crime and for safe family-friendly streets.

      • Anon says:

        I agree. Everyone should be given a chance. But harassment and drug dealing are against the law and people engaged in such activities should be arrested, whether they are homeless or not, and no matter what neighborhood they are housed in. The problem is NOT the fact that these supposedly recovering men will be in our neighborhood. The problem is that it seems we cannot rely the police to serve and protect us by arresting/removing those who break the law.

        So maybe let’s shift our focus a little to demand that we are protected from criminals rather than that the govt discriminate against those less fortunate.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m so glad you commented. I read the story and felt so bad to learn that you lost your job over trying to keep your community decent. It makes no sense at all. And I know you didn’t throw anything. Let everyone know the truth please.

    28. V says:

      I am 100% in favor of unused hotel rooms being used as a shelter and am disappointed in this single-source, fear-baiting article. Where do we expect homeless people to go? Those struggling with addiction and mental health deserve our support, not our scorn.

      • Peter says:

        Do you live across the street? What do the children living there deserve? Every drug dealer serving the UWS descending to that corner starting tomorrow to serve the vastly increased new clientele? What do the inevitable mugging or stabbing victims deserve?

        At least a little advanced notice would have been nice.

        Or do you want to reassure me that the increase in crime will not be statistically significant?

    29. Drew says:

      Thank you west side Democrat’s. You live here and you cast your votes for the people who are making these decisions. Pray that you don’t get attacked or your kids. Honestly this isn’t an over reaction. Unfortunately it’s real . There are no sides it should be one side. We’re supposed to live in a safe society not sides.
      Everyone should be respected. If you have to tell them your on there side. What side were you on?

    30. Anonymous says:

      Multiple shelter residents living in hotels told NY1 they were told to expect to stay in these new locations for about six months. (DHS Commissioner Steven) Banks told us there is no move-out date.

      ‘We are going to be governed by public health concerns, and at the point at which it is safe to resume operations of congregate shelters and stop using commercial hotels, we will do that,’ Banks said.

      All 283 Men will be in rooms that are two persons to a room. so much for social distancing especially when they may share cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, needles and so much else. While security is on their phones it will take place in and around the hotels. This will not prevent the social distancing that is necessary to protect the homeless.

    31. knowledge is power says:

      I think a good starting point for individuals who want to participate and stay up to speed is joining their block association, to get on their email distribution list. A couple:

      79th Street Block Association:

      78th Street Museum Block Association:

    32. Sally says:

      Helen Rosenthal and Gail Brewer have betrayed their constituents. She has taken away our voice, our ability to question our officials and our right to make decisions for pur families. This is America! Our rights are being trampled on. She should halt the move until she speaks to the community. After all, she works for us

    33. XStacy says:

      Tell me when and where – we need to do something! I just can’t sit by and give up!

      Where is the money coming from to sponsor all of these rooms? TRULY? This is going to break the back of this city – not to mention the spirit. What happens in six months when no one wants to leave? Folks seem to think that the new occupants won’t claim residency rights…think again. This is going to be a mess and it’s got dirty hands all in it…another NYC production. We’ve worked TOO long and hard to bring this neighborhood to a place where we could walk at NIGHT – a thing we can no longer do. It’s time we take it back folks…and we need to do it together.

    34. MS says:

      From my personal experience, these shelters, when brought into areas like the upper west side bring a lot of problems. You land up with a huge increase in crime. Usually petty crime, car break ins and such, but sometimes burglaries. Let me be clear, though, I do believe in shelters. I believe the problem is basically the lack of support and monitoring for the residents, most of which have have either drug issues or psychiatric problems.
      That’s not going to play well a block away from Zabars and the like.

    35. Mel says:

      All that I can say is that WE NEED MORE POLICE on these UWS streets like immediately. If you really want to know just how rampant crime is up here, get a crime tracker app and you will be shocked. Just today there were MANY serious incidents in the 70’s and 60’s UWS.

    36. ST says:

      So that is the end of Teddy Roosevelt Park. Helen did her final number on it.

    37. The city is filling 4 or 5 hotels within a few blocks of me with the homeless. The benches on the Broadway medium are filling up with wine drinkers, reefer smokers and who knows what else?

      While, at the same time:

      the middle class are fleeing: I found out about 3 in my small building this month alone who’re lighting out for the territories…

      I guess de Blasio likes to add fuel to a fire and why not, he’s term limited & he’s not from the UWS, so the heck with us, I guess.

      The UWS will be burning, all the small businesses will be gone & guess what?

      Hizzoner will be long gone too.

    38. Been Here Longer Than You says:

      The joke of it all is, I see a ton of handwringing over 283 people with substance abuse issues receiving housing in the UWS.

      Are you all really naive enough to thing there aren’t 10, 50, 100 times that # of addicts in our neighborhood right now? People who hide their problems? They might live next door, for all you know.

      Get off your high horses and help the less fortunate out. Or at least give them a chance. This discourse is way too Upper East Side for my taste

      • Peter says:

        “Give them a chance” to what exactly?

        What is the decline in crime rate in the vicinity of the shelters they come from during the period they stayed there? What is the decline in illegal drug use in or around the shelter? What is the rate of rehabilitation and return to being productive members of society? How many out of how many, and how much did it cost per person to the taxpayers? How many have relapsed? How many have violent crime or sexual assault histories? How many of those are recent events? What was their Covid-19 positivity rate during the darker months of the crisis? What protective measures where they taking there that were deemed unsufficient and required relocation here?

        When exactly were we given the chance to ask those questions and receive the highly satifactory and positive answers to assuage our fears, before the community can consider the appropriate action?

    39. Valid UWSer says:

      This seems like a tragedy waiting to happen. What is the 20th precinct’s proactive plan )i know unlikely) for increasing their presence around the Lucerne, the Belleclaire and the other new palaces for sex offenders and drug abusers? Oh wait — many of you probably want to defund NYPD.

    40. EconUWS says:

      As of this morning, I’ve called:

      (1) Helen Rosenthal’s office at (212) 873-0282 and left a message with her chief of staff
      (2) Emailed CB7 Chair Mark Diller at
      (3) Emailed West 79th Street Block Association’s Dale Brown at
      (4) And spoken with head of 20th Precinct Community Affairs (212) 580-6428

      I hope you’ll join me.

      • UWSNotForLong says:

        Thank you. I emailed Helen’s office the day this was announced and so far they haven’t even paid me the courtesy of a reply.

      • Please call as well says:

        Done on all 4 accounts. The precinct was not informed about any of these plans beforehand either. Said the best they can do is monitor the situation and respond to emergencies (after the worst has happened), since homeless outreach is no longer under the NYPD responsibility per de Blasio and city council’s decision (thanks Helen Rosenthal). So now we sit and wait until the UWS falls back no man’s land as in the 80s.

        Mark Diller said they are trying to setup a community meeting on Wednesday night. Please check the community board 7 website for the latest plans.

        No answer from Rosenthal, obviously.

    41. Dave says:

      This is totally ridiculous. I grew up on the Upper West (UWS) in the late 60s & 1970s. I had to run home from school every month or two and learn to avoid kids/adults that looked like trouble. This initiative is going to start taking the UWS back to those times and depress the neighborhood.

      • Robert says:

        Its already happening. Friends of ours are afraid to walk alone after 7:30pm, let alone their children. Constant harassment by people on the street who are high asking for money. Yes they should get help, but this is not the way. Before its too late we should not allow it to get worse. The local politicians are focused on everything but the real problems facing the everyday person. They spent years and money fighting a building because it will be too tall and cast shadows on the UWS. Whats going on now with crime and homelessness is so much worse and will plunge the west side into total darkness… and they are no where to be found.

    42. Jenny from the Block says:

      Does anyone know if the residents that were relocated from Euclid Hall on Broadway between 85th and 86th have returned? If they haven’t returned, why not bring them back to their neighborhood instead of transferring new people. I imagine it would be better for their welfare if they were returned to more familiar surroundings.

      • Anon says:

        It looks like a fair amount have returned to Euclid. I live on the block and there is a noticeable difference in lighted apts in the evening.

    43. Joe says:

      Upper Westsiders voted for this!

      Vote Republican.
      Vote Republican.
      Vote Republican!

    44. Ben O says:

      New York law forbids high-risk offenders under state or county supervision from “knowingly entering” school grounds and child care facilities, language that courts have interpreted to also mean that those offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school. Did Project Renewal seek an exception?

    45. Mike says:

      The number of sex offenders in zip code 10024 went from 4 to 19. 15 of them now reside in the Belleclaire Hotel. As a citizen of the UWS with children I have the right to know when the number of sex offenders suddenly quadruples. This is particularly so since my tax dollars are used to subsidize drug addicts, drunks and sex offenders.

      There are reports that Helen Rosenthal only knew three days in advance, but other reports that her chief of staff negotiated this. I do not know what to believe. As a community member I feel betrayed. This is actually worse that President Donald Trump. When he does something idiotic, at least he warns us on Twitter. The UWS was blindsided and sold out.

    46. EGF says:

      Does anyone happen to know how a hotel ends up with homeless drug users as residents? I’ve had family stay at some of these hotels and they were perfectly decent accommodations for high paying guests. Does the hotel seek out participation in these programs or does the city exercise some kind of “eminent domain” like authority and demand it of them?

      • Almost Former Upper West Sider says:

        I believe the city incentivizes the hotels by paying over rack rates …and the hotels are suffering from the pandemic. They need the $ to stay afloat…although these hotels will likely not be converted back and we will be stuck with 600 men in new homeless shelters between 77 and 87…

      • UWSNotForLong says:

        My understanding is that the hotels are desperate for money during this pandemic and are willingly signing contracts with the city to house the homeless.

    47. A thought- The second last sentence of this article tells the whole tale; my big “aha” moment:

      “The hotels receive 75% of the money for the hotels from FEMA.”

      City Homeless Shelters are paid for mostly with City money (though not entirely).

      The City is shoveling people as fast as they can into Fed. Gov’t (FEMA) paid-for housing to get them off the City’s books… reducing line item costs, where & how they can.

      The Times has a terrifying story (7/27) for all who love this city: “The Virus Turns Midtown Into a Ghost Town, Causing an Economic Crisis…
      7,500 workers are missing from a famous building. A food cart sells 10 hot dogs a day. The virus’s effect on one block could be an omen for the city’s future.”

      People, there’s $BILLIONS in tax revenue NOT being collected and $TENS OF BILLIONS in economic activity that’s DISAPPEARED.

      The rats in my beloved Riverside Park are getting more bold & probably more numerous, and the homeless are filling up the hotels and the median benches (I know; an unfortunate juxtaposition) as the middle class continues to flee en masse.

      This note is not about who is right or wrong about the homeless, it’s about wake up and smell the coffee: this City, this country, and maybe the world is teetering on the knife edge of depression (unless a vaccine explodes into view).

      Trouble Comin’ Everyday, as Frank Zappa once sang.

      • Tyler says:

        As the immortal Karl Marx said,”The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs.”

    48. Catie says:

      Our UWS community has been betrayed by Helen Rosenthal. She has taken away our voice, ability to secure our family’s safety&acted like a coward not speaking to us in person.
      The Lucerne has betrayed us for profit. I for one will go Yelp Expedia&Trip Adviser to let tourists know what they did.

    49. Merle Mceldowney says:

      What are “services” Is there someone at night to see that tre residents “behave” themselves so as not to be offensive to the neighbors I live near the Lucern Hotel. People who live with apartments facing broadway are disturbed but the noise of people on the benches on Broadway. There are stories of used condoms being found on broadway in the morning. This is a “nice” liberal and socially conscious community. We understand the need for housing and the need for a hotel such a the lucerne to have an income stream. This can be done in such a way that long time residents are not disturbed by the new residents.

    50. amy stone says:

      We need followup from Helen Rosenthal, not just her referral to Project Renewal. And more leadership from Gale Brewer (my personal hero).

    51. AnonymousPerson says:

      Are there something organized for us to take actions? There are already so many homeless on the streets around this neighborhood. I don’t feel safe to send my daughter outside anymore.

    52. Kristina Markovic says:

      To make your voice heard Call community board 7, 212 362 4008 or email at Elizabeth R Caputo is the new chair. Penny Ryan is the district manager.

      Email Helen Rosenthal at

      Email Gale Brewer at

      • West Sider says:

        (the current chair is Mark Diller)

        • Kristina says:

          I called 311 and they told me that Elizabeth R Caputo is the new chair. The website is outdated.

          • Almost Former Upper West Sider says:

            I don’t think that’s accurate. I have a call with Mark today – I will confirm he’s the current president, but I’m almost 100% sure he is.

    53. What they need is the new self-confidence to apply-for& do a JOB, with a Supervisor who makes sure you stay clean, & DO IT, and that TRAINING is what we need to use those empty store fronts are for! Whats wrong with you leaders?? Can’t you SEE 👁👁THIS? Right yhere in front of you 🤷🏻‍♂️

    54. Suzanne P. says:

      We should demand a town hall meeting with Rosenthal and Brewer. BTW where is Nadler in all of this. Isn’t he supposed to be fighting for his constituents?

    55. UWSreader says:

      Are any of the local politicians that let this happen up for re-election for November? Can we vote someone else in who could turn this around?

    56. Jane says:

      I just came back from a walk and saw 6 of our new neighbors walking around with no masks around 79 and broadway. One was screaming out loud, maskless and shirtless. I am concerned more about covid along with safety.

    57. JB says:

      I’m not sure I understand why potentially dangerous people and drug addicts need to be put up in free housing in the middle of Manhattan. What is there to gain by being in the middle of a big city where you’re left to spend all day hanging out on a median strip sleeping on a bench, drinking and and harassing passers by? Surely a better environment would be in a rural area away from all the “bad influences” and temptations (eg drug dealers) that exist in a big city? Is the goal really to get these people better? Seems the worst place to try to do it.
      Good luck to anyone trying to sell an apartment around 79st now with all this bad press.

    58. Ned says:

      Here’s who we’re dealing with – Jay Domb (son of Empire Hotel Group owner Sam Domb) who own the Lucerne – won’t pay child support:

      • Boris says:

        That’s not what the article says. The court ordered him to pay $2000 but the girlfriend wants $4000. His girlfriend is not the one who decides what his obligation should be. There is nothing in the article that indicated he hasn’t been compliant with the court-awarded amount.

        Your comment also reeks of gutter shaming. Of what significance is it what a family member does in his personal life regarding a matter that many of our neighbors and friends have experienced in their own lives? Who are you to judge others for behavior related to such personal family matters?

    59. Eating popcorn watching the mess says:

      “The People have spoken … and they must be punished.” Ed Koch.

    60. John Spears says:

      Lets support the Homeless as long as they don’t live in my neighborhood.

    61. Concerned parent says:

      What’s clear is our politicians are not looking out for our community. This is not about ideology but simple facts relating to increased crime and drug use as a result of a men’s rehab shelter being placed squarely in the middle of family neighborhood.

      Organize and start a campaign to vote Helen Rosenthal out of office. That will get her attention.

      • Boris says:

        How can you be informed and involved yet not know that Helen Rosenthal is going to be term-limited out of her City Council seat?

    62. fnord says:

      Who’s up for renting a bus and inviting our new Lucerne neighbors to upgrade to a beautiful Hamptons property courtesy of the Domb family? Surely a few hundred drugged addicts won’t be a bother to the folks who own the Lucerne…

    63. I live next to the bellleclaire and get sexually harassed by the homeless men who hang out in front of my building on a daily basis. I don’t feel safe walking in and out of my building anymore. Wasn’t this supposedly for “safety?” They don’t social distance or wear masks. They drink and smoke and loiter in front of my building all day. Why don’t they go look for jobs since they don’t have to worry about food or shelter thanks to the tax payer? I’ve seen several of them shooting up in a phone booth outside my building. They litter constantly and our building’s staff has to clean up after their filth. I’ve also seen several fights break out among them from my window. I hope you bleeding hearts cheering this on get mugged by them.

    64. Lil vic says:

      Ahhh. Love it. The New Democratic Regime

      Keep voting them in. DeBlasio will run the city into the ground

    65. Michael Palmer says:

      If we are going to move people to Hotels in our neighborhood during the Pandemic, who is going to protect vulnerable residents from being accosted by Homeless People not wearing masks?? We have many young people with children and elderly who need protection.