Get WSR FREE in your inbox

Neighborhood Splits Over New Homeless Hotel Residents; Police, Homeless Men and Opponents Weigh In


Photo by Joy Bergmann.

By Mariel Priven and Jacob Rose

The relocation of hundreds of homeless men to hotels on the Upper West Side has alarmed local residents, and led to a split between those who think it’s led to a drastic deterioration in the quality of life here and those who find the backlash against the shelter too extreme.

Almost two weeks have passed since 283 men experiencing homelessness were placed in the Lucerne on 79th Street, and there are some noticeable changes to the area, like groups of men hanging out under scaffolding and in the Broadway medians. Several Upper West Siders have cited incidences of public drug use, disturbances, conflicts in stores, and lack of mask-wearing from Lucerne residents. In addition, community residents have raised concerns about two other shelters operating inside hotels — the Belnord (209 W. 87th St) and the Belleclaire (77th & Broadway) — that have been in use for several weeks.

But The Lucerne seemed to be the tipping point.

A Facebook group called Upper West Siders for Safer Streets that was organized after the shelter was first announced late last month now has about 3,000 members and they regularly post pictures of men lying on the ground or otherwise out of sorts. The group requests that people who support the shelters “please do not join”.

Photo of men in the Broadway median by Robert, a member of Upper West Siders for Safer Streets.

Upper West Siders for Safer Streets has been publicizing a petition to relocate the men, and it’s gotten more than 4,000 signatures.

The PTA of PS 87 — which sits on 78th Street off of Amsterdam and is known for raising more money than almost any school in the city — sent a letter to parents urging them to join the group.

“There have been fights at 79th and Amsterdam, on Broadway between 79th and 80th,” the letter says. “Some of community families have been verbally harassed, men have been spitting in Metal Park (in Covid times) and sadly, some have reported seeing men looking for drugs or using drugs. Additionally, there has been loitering in metal park which can lead to ‘contraband’ and needles left in the park placing our children at risk.”

Others in the neighborhood say the Facebook group is a NIMBY response to the plight of troubled people.

“Even in one of the neighborhoods in the country with the most MSNBC viewers, there are thousands of residents willing to sign a petition kicking people experiencing homelessness out of shelters during one of the most severe economic downturns in history,” wrote Sam Koppelman, who grew up in the neighborhood, on Twitter. “If you want to end segregation, if you want to end white supremacy, if you want to bring about justice, you have to live your values in your backyard.”

A separate petition looks to embrace the shelters, or at least find a way to work with them. It argued that the men’s placement at The Lucerne would help reduce COVID-19 spread among the homeless and the general public, and help promote recovery among men dealing with “addiction, mental health issues, joblessness, health concerns, and other things that contribute to chronic homelessness.”

It cited evidence that crime has not risen since the men’s arrival at The Lucerne. “We must parse out the perceived risk vs. real risk,” the petition reads.

One parent at PS 87 who shared the PTA’s letter with the Rag wrote that it included “classist and racist innuendo,” adding “I’m ashamed that I ever gave that PTA a dime.”

“My next check will be to Project Renewal, the organization running The Lucerne shelter,” the parent wrote. “That’s an organization that truly needs it.”

Robert, a member of the Upper West Siders for Safer Streets group, said he thinks the people in the group are “coming from an empathetic place but at the same time, we need to sit down with these people and come up with a solution, because we were not given that opportunity.” Robert, like many locals, continues to feel disheartened by the community’s lack of awareness of and involvement in the Department of Homeless Service’s decision to house these men in these UWS hotels.

Local resident Chris Caldwell told the Rag that he saw a man shooting heroin on 82nd and Broadway on Monday night; nearby individuals told him the man had exited the Lucerne. Caldwell said that several families with young children walked up and down Broadway during the incident. “I volunteer at the Homeless Shelter at Assumption church and have great love in my heart for the homeless,” he said. “This is disturbing though, as there were multiple children within a block.”

“What I’ve noticed is they’re hanging around, they’re not wearing masks. There’s been a lot of arguments, a lot of loitering,” said Jill, an owner of Blondie’s across the street. She said her staff has to ask them to keep moving along. “I think they need more security guards.” She said she had to call cops about a loud argument going on across the street. “It’s coming down to us to police it and it shouldn’t be. I’m constantly moving these guys away.”

Mariano Ouatu, the manager of Coppola’s down the block also expressed concern. “We’re losing a lot of our customers,” he said. After 9 p.m. and during lunch, customers are dissuaded from coming in because of loud fighting on the street, he said. And more customers are now ordering in instead of sitting outside.

Other business owners have not experienced the same issues. Keith Lewis, owner of 79th Street Pharmacy, says men come into the store in twos and threes, “very nice but not buying anything.”


A flyer in opposition to the shelter was written over: “Homeless people deserve safety and decent homes.” Photo by Joy Bergmann.

A homeless resident of The Lucerne who goes by the name Da Homeless Hero said that he and some other residents have been trying to address negative behaviors by other men at the shelter.

“I want to let you know that I and a few other residents actually go outside and walk around and confront those who may be openly doing something that they should not be doing and encouraging them to respect the community,” he wrote in an email to West Side Rag. “In most cases, our wishes are respected but there are times when the response can be hostile for we are but residents and have not the authority to tell someone what to do. Yet, we do take that initiative, especially when we see them in areas that we know the security will not cover. We call this ‘policing ourselves’. I want the community to know that there are some of us who are definitely trying to do the right thing for ourselves and this community that we are in. We’re not trying to let some bad apples make the rest of us look bad and I know I, myself, do want to feel safe in my environment.”

Capt. Neil Zuber, commander of the 20th precinct, says he has not seen a spike in crime since the shelters came in. In fact, major crime in the precinct is down 10% this year.

“911 calls around the shelters have increased, but they are largely for things that didn’t merit a 911 call,” he told West Side Rag. “I think people are understandably very sensitive about the new shelters and calling 911 for every perceived reason. Other than occasionally waiting for ambulances for overdoses, we haven’t had much of a role.”

Asked about neighbors’ complaints, Project Renewal sent a statement.

“We are proud to work with the city to help fight the COVID pandemic,” Project Renewal said in the statement. “Our 70 staff and security members will be here around the clock to ensure the well being of our clients and to work in partnership with the community.”

The Department of Homeless Services reiterated its mission and legal obligation to provide shelter and services to all New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and said, “the notion that they are not welcome in some neighborhoods for any reason is an affront to basic decency. We don’t discriminate based on people’s previous experiences or backgrounds, and we will not create gated communities within our City – we extend a helping hand, no matter what.”

For some residents of the shelter, the experience has been a positive one — a chance to live in a more-private room rather than a crowded shelter. “For me, it’s great. I come here from work, get to lay down, get A/C, peace of mind,” said Geoffrey Smith, a new resident at The Lucerne who was moved from a shelter in The Bowery.

Smith works in housekeeping at the Javits Center and has a roommate who works in New Jersey. He says they both get back to the hotel around 10 o’clock most days, take a shower, and leave around 5 in the morning. “We already have a stigma being in a shelter. Nobody wants to be in a shelter, everybody wants to be at home. But it’s up to them to use that as a stepping stone.” Are most people using it as a stepping stone? “I don’t know. I know a few good dudes in there using it as a stepping stone.” He wants to use this opportunity to work towards getting his own home, keep saving, and ultimately “be happy.”

guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

196 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago

One regular WSR commenter has repeatedly (and anonymously) called the men in the Lucerne “the worst of the worst.” This is sickening.

It’s obvious to me that men like Da Homeless Hero (DHH) and Geoffrey Smith, both quoted above, are among “the best of the best”. Despite obstacles, they keep struggling and working and doing the best they can. I compare them favorably to a lot of well-to-do former UWS residents who are moving out, or threatening to do so.

The picture above of “men in the Broadway median” shows nothing wrong, other than Sitting and Standing While Black. What does it prove? Should more be wearing masks? Yes. But guess what… take a picture of a bunch of NYPD cops in uniform hanging out, and see how many are wearing masks.

The number of homeless moved in quickly was too many, and the community should have been consulted. But let’s not pretend that there is not an awful lot of elitist and even racist sentiments at play in the opposition. Dept of Homeless Services is right, the UWS is no gated community.

Chased Out of UWS
Chased Out of UWS
1 year ago

It appears “Da Homeless Hero” is the marginal case and having him intertwined with the rest of the group there seems to be a huge disservice to him.

If you think the vast majority of this crew is truly working to improve their lives, you may be part of the problem

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago

I totally agree with you.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago

Bruce, I agree with you. I do not want to live in a gated UWS. Some of the comments I read are so blatantly racist and classist. We can’t (and shouldn’t) try to exclude people from the neighborhood. This is New York City. It is a city that is open to all.

CG
CG
1 year ago

Thank you, Bruce. A compassionate and fact-based comment.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago

Thanks Bruce for your words and we are encouraged to continue doing our best to show that we are worthy of the same respect given to anyone who is trying to make their way in this city of ours. One of the places I do go to is the medium to encourage those who are there to visit Central Park and Riverside Park and see the beauty that is there. Ironically, some of the people who are there are not familiar with the parks or other areas and it takes some communication to get them to know what’s around. However, there are some who we do approach and convince to abide by basic rules and levels of decency.

With 283 people some will not comply but I can assure you that the Head of Security is quick to address those issues and get things straightened out. I spoke with him today and alerted to the concerns and he is working on a way to deal with it. What we don’t want is to criminalize people simply because they are congregating in a place or because they are homeless. That could be dangerous in the long run. Thanks again for you comments and we will keep trying to do the right thing for ourselves and the community we are now living in.

Sammy
Sammy
1 year ago

I appreciate hearing your story. I think we all want people to get better. The men quoted in this article is what we all want to see. I am happy to have people like that. It seems like project renewal isn’t doing their job in rehabilitating everyone….bc there are clearly still doing drugs.They sit in the median all day & smoke etc. I personally don’t feel threatened by them physically. My main concern is Covid. They aren’t wearing masks and they are spitting, smoking. I see them go into the store I always go to which is small. A group setting like you they are living Covid can spread like wildfire…then they are in the street & stores. That’s my main concern a Covid outbreak. I do understand the concerns of restaurants. Let’s not forget they are finally back in business after Covid. If they are now losing customers/business bc of this I get their frustration. Since there is no indoor dining it’s easy for diners to be bothered. I think everyone wants people to get better and have a chance in life. I find the men quoted very inspiring. It can’t be easy. It’s just some of the men don’t seem committed and project renewal could help get them on the right path.

Rachel
Rachel
1 year ago
Reply to  Sammy

Well said, Sammy!! DHH and Geoffrey Smith are true inspirations. Unfortunately, they are in the minority. The decision to move some residents out of these “temporary” shelters proves the point that a large number of dangerous individuals have been moved into a neighborhood they shouldn’t have been in in the first place!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago

Thank you to Da Homeless Hero and Bruce for your comments.

w 71st resident
w 71st resident
1 year ago

Bruce, I think your take is the correct one. I think that in such an unprecedented crisis, we should extend compassion and grace to all– including those with fewer material means. I think that this indeed should have communicated with better, but we shouldn’t reject the opportunity to help others based on a phantom of suspicion and fear. I do hope that the organizing bodies are able to address the more serious concerns that have been raised, but we’ve hardly given them a chance to.

Craig Heard
Craig Heard
1 year ago

I suggest you open your eyes and look at the photograph.

Notice how none of these people are wearing face masks.

The claimed reason these 283 homeless men with drug histories were shipped to this single location in the first place was supposed to be to guarantee a safe distance between them during the Covid plague.

This endangers everyone in the community.

TBEPS
TBEPS
1 year ago

Do you believe that housing “Da Homeless Hero” and Geoff Smith with a large number of violent active drug abusers is helping them???
How does it make sense to put 283 men in a building together when some are in recovery and working and others are violent and buying drugs AROUND THE CORNER ON BROADWAY???
You are setting up these men for failure.
Project Renewal has some serious program evaluating to do.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  TBEPS

I agree with you on this which is why I initially spoke on this issue. I thought it was wrong to tell the community that 283 men who were “in recovery” were coming to the community. That is irresponsible when the reality is that while many of us work and are indeed in recovery there is still a significant amount who are not receiving treatment of any kind and this issue has to be addressed to ensure that we all are able to live among each other in peace.

I’ve encouraged Project Renewal’s Recovery Center to do outreach and have a presence here to accomodate not just me, but those who are need but have not be actively in recovery. They have been here at the Lucerne and will be coming on a regular basis. I’ve spoken to other officials within Project Renewal about the same thing and they are definitely hearing what I am saying and the community.

One thing I can tell you is that a number of people have been transfered to places outside of the community because it’s obvious they need a “higher level of care” and will not be able to adjust. However, it will take some time to address others who may be in need of such. In the meantime, I will continue to talk to my co-residents to understand how they can address their needs in a healthy way while being here. As I’ve said before, a plush hotel room is not the cure all for substance use disorder and mental health issues. There is much more that needs to be done and it’s the responsibility of DHS and Project Renewal to ensure that we get those services.

Thanks for your comment and observation

Leon
Leon
1 year ago

Thank you DHH – you seem like an admirable person and I wish you the best. Unfortunately, as you noted, there is a significant population of people in these hotels who are not upstanding citizens like you. I appreciate your efforts to improve the situation from the inside.

If the hotels were full of people like DHH, I don’t think there would be the uproar. If the worst offense was people congregating without masks, I don’t think there would be an uproar. But public drug dealing and usage, fights, and harassment of innocent bystanders is not OK. The police need to enforce the law. I don’t know why they have chosen not to. It is not just for the benefit of UWS residents but also the people like DHH who are using the hotels as a way to try to become self-sufficient.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Leon

Thanks Leon,

I appreciate your words, and yes, the police need to be more present. I did my daily walk yesterday and talked to some people and while a few where receptive to my suggestions, some just ignored me and gave me a funny look. DHS should have worked with the community. This is a temporary thing for sure but because we’re expected to be here at least until January, we all should have been well informed. Believe it or not, most of us who are residents were told we were being transferred on the day or a few days before the transfer. For some, that was a major shock. I fear that there will be physical violence at some point. It’s a bad situation. Hopefuly, all of the comments, whether we agree or disagree are heard so DHS can understand their mistake and do what is necessary to fix it, if that is even possible. I do respect this community and have lived here in the past. It’s a great community.

Thanks again.

adami
adami
1 year ago

Bruce – thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments. Would like to have a beer in the median with you some day. Post Covid. Though as far as I know, that is/was/will still be illegal. So in a paper bag?

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  adami

thank you Adami… thank you for your positive and constructive energy. I look forward to chatting peacefully on the Broadway median.

GG
GG
1 year ago

Great!

Is this what the UWS really needs more of?? Drunken loitering?? Great example for the neighborhood.

Way to be a positive influence and contribute to the community.

Face Facts
Face Facts
1 year ago

‘Sitting and Standing While Black’ can and does easily become ‘Committing Violent Assaults While Black’ against ‘Walking By While While Being an Elderly White Person’.

This happens. You cannot deny this happens. We have seen it reported here. Some of us have seen it with our own eyes. Some of us, unfortunately, have experienced it.

So spare us the self-righteous blather. Your Race Baiting withers in the Face of Facts.

El Dobo
El Dobo
1 year ago
Reply to  Face Facts

“Face facts” must be an ironic name since this comment offers no facts whatsoever.

Just Sayin'
Just Sayin'
1 year ago

Says the guys who lives comfortably on Central Park West. Wait till they start getting closer to your backyard. Lets see if if you feel the same!

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  Just Sayin'

i don’t live on CPW. I live on a block that had two buildings as homeless shelters for approx 10 years (placed there under Bloomberg). No increase in crime, no change in quality of life, property values continued to rise. Now one building is no longer a shelter and the other is a superbly run supportive housing facility for formerly homeless veterans.

Lots of false assumptions from “Just sayin…” I’m just sayin’…

JK
JK
1 year ago

Really? I do leave on the block with a shelter. My 12 year old was walking towards me to 86 street subway and was harassed by those “peacefully “ sitting and standing people. She run to me crying and scared and told me she will never walk alone again. Let’s scare our kids to death, should we? Not a racial conversion. I am scared to pass by them too. Trying not to go anywhere after 7. Do you think this is how we should leave from now on?

HelenD
HelenD
1 year ago

And if there were a massive group of white ‘elite’ UWS males shouting obscenities at women and drinking and getting high on the corners and medians, would you say that was acceptable too?

Jay
Jay
1 year ago
Reply to  HelenD

@HelenD:

“And if there were a massive group of white ‘elite’ UWS males shouting obscenities at women and drinking and getting high on the corners and medians, would you say that was acceptable too?”

You mean like white employed, non-homeless, men at the bar (only a bar) Jake’s Dilemma just up Amsterdam from the Lucerne?

Stop Trashing the Hood
Stop Trashing the Hood
1 year ago
Reply to  HelenD

In New York City, it is illegal to drink alcoholic beverages in public places; this also includes possession of an open container of alcohol. This is true whether or not you are of legal age and applies to drinking alcohol or alcoholic beverages in parks, on streets, or in any public place.

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  HelenD

response to Helen D:

Of course shouting obscenities at women shouldn’t be tolerated. Report it to the Lucerne! But the last time i looked, people are allowed to sit in the median (a park, after all) and drink a beer or a Colt 45. I’ve been known to do it myself.

Does the photo demonstrate criminal or anti-social behavior to you?

JerryV
JerryV
1 year ago

Bruce Bernstein writes, “Does the photo demonstrate criminal or anti-social behavior to you?” Yes it does for those who refuse to wear masks. Our area has had one of the lowest levels of Covid-19 cases because most of the people by far hav been wearing masks to protect themselves and others in the neighborhood. These men are living among and close to many other men in the homeless shelters. If just one becomes a carrier, he will pass it along to others in the shelter and they will soon pass it along the UWS. I consider that anti-social and potentially criminal behavior.

EdNY
EdNY
1 year ago

Homelessness and lawbreaking are and should be two separate things.

CL
CL
1 year ago

Behaviors are the issue. Are they violent or aggressive toward others? Do they impinge upon the rights of others to live in a safe environment? Are there health issues in the time of virus spread, such as spitting yelling without masks, etc. Dangerous behaviors need to be addressed.

robert
robert
1 year ago

Please lets be real, the neighboorhood is not split. 9 out of 10 oppose the conditions that the streets are currently under and opposed to having these facilities being used to give shelter to those that are causing the west side to deteriorate day after day.

Get Them Help
Get Them Help
1 year ago
Reply to  robert

There are many comments here about incidents. Assuming the comments are true, the people should report these incidents to Project Renewal, so that the individuals can **get the help they need.** Clearly, if someone is mentally ill, is using dangerous drugs, is putting themselves and others in danger, **they need help.** That is what Project Renewal does. If they can’t help the individual, they will be transferred to more intensive services. If you do not report the individual to Project Renewal or DHS, and you are simply posting your story here or on Facebook, I call BS on its veracity.

20 years in the neighborhood
20 years in the neighborhood
1 year ago
Reply to  robert

Do you have a source for that statistic or are you just guessing based off the people you know? I am asking sincerely, because everyone I know is mildly concerned about the increase of homeless people but downright appalled by the vitriol expressed by our fellow West Siders. It’s not the former that makes me want to leave the neighborhood, it’s the latter.

(Not really, I’m not going anywhere!)

Melanie
Melanie
1 year ago
Reply to  robert

Thank you, Robert. I’m tired of this issue being presented as some genuine “split” in public discourse. The vast, vast majority of Upper West Siders want these drug addicts out of our neighborhood. A few vocal woke people does not constitute a split. They can invite a homeless man or two to stay in their apartment with them.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago
Reply to  Melanie

Melanie,

“They” are human beings. The neighborhood is split. I live in the neighborhood, and out of all the people I have spoken with about it so far, only one person was upset. I am not in favor of kicking anyone out of our neighborhood. New York City is for everyone. We are not in a gated community. You don’t get to keep people out of the UWS due to their social/financial status.

I am just so disgusted by the attitudes of many of these commenters towards actual human beings. Please learn some compassion.

Priya
Priya
1 year ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Compassion to tolerate public urination, drug use, lewd cat calls, undressing in public, congregating in large groups without masks, leaving trash on the street? No one needs to tolerate this. It goes against basic civility.

Jen
Jen
1 year ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I am a human being too, not just “recovering” addicts. I have lived in the neighborhood since late 90s.
I was attacked by another human being, a woman, with a knife and didn’t even realize what was happening at 87 street years ago. She was an addict from the shelter near where Brice lives and claims it is all dandy. Her group constantly high was hanging out in the area day and night.
She was arrested and taken to psych but the police told me she would be let go next day and would be on the same corner because she didn’t kill me.
These are the rules for these human beings. Apparently we are the lesser ones.
I moved to 70s and am still weary of that area.

davidaron60
davidaron60
1 year ago
Reply to  Melanie

Some of us have. Perhaps now or in the past.

Craig Heard
Craig Heard
1 year ago

These are not homeless women or families at the Lucerne but a shelter dedicated exclusively to 283 men with serious drug issues.

In the case of the Hotel Belleclaire despite assurances from Helen Rosenthal only one registered convicted sex offender has been removed.

There are a number there including child molesters and rapists one block from a school playground.

She previously pledged that all would be gone but has now reversed course.

She doesn’t consider herself a public servant but treats every else as her personal servants.

The only saving grace is that she’s term limited.

Neal H Hurwitz
Neal H Hurwitz
1 year ago
Reply to  Craig Heard

I think Helen Rosenthal is not doing the right job.

G
G
1 year ago

more reasons to thank Gale A. Brewer. she has set her sights on ruining this neighborhood. let’s all go live at her place.

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  G

reply to G:

wow, how uniformed. Do you know anything about Gale? Do you know how many dozens of foster children she and her husband have raised, all while she was a public official or public employee?

Do you know anything about what Gale’s stance is on this issue?

You probably just know she is identified as a liberal, which means you want to vilify her. Just a guess.

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

Literally no one gives a damn about her foster children. We care about the junkies shooting up in our neighborhood by the hundreds.

Victor
Victor
1 year ago

The NYPD refuses to do anything. I was verbally harassed multiple times and was told it was “outside their jurisdiction”.

Danielle Remp
Danielle Remp
1 year ago
Reply to  Victor

It *is* out the jurisdiction of the NYPD.
As reported by newyork cbslocal on July 16 interactions with the homeless was shifted from the police to social services agencies:

“Ninety-two police officers, three detectives and 25 sergeant supervisors will now be assigned new roles.

“Several medical nurses were also part of the unit.

“They have been offered positions with the city Department of Health.”

Not having it
Not having it
1 year ago

I’m seeing a ton of racist and classist behavior from other UWS residents. this is despicable. If you don’t like living with people who are of a different background and income level, please kindly remove yourself to the suburbs. We take care of EVERYONE here in the city. And especially in this neighborhood, which was a very mixed income area for decades before Bloomberg’s reign of terror.

I’ve already told off people asking me to sign this shameful petition and seen one lady call for a “cop” (a traffic officer LMAO) when she got nasty with an african-american man on the sidewalk this week.

Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise and force people to A) check their privilege B) relocate if they can’t stomach the idea of supportive housing.

guruJuice
guruJuice
1 year ago
Reply to  Not having it

This isn’t a matter of class or income level. This is a matter of hard-core junkies shooting up in front of kids. I’m Hispanic, so don’t preach to me about race. It bothers me to have my family wade through the marijuana funk, crackheads, and general hostility of all the many, new homeless men in our neighborhood. Plain and simple!

On the topic of diversity, I agree. But why should normalizing and accepting criminal behavior be a precondition for living in UWS. Maybe older NY’ers are more sanguine, but I don’t want a reset back to the bad old days. The bar has been set higher since then, and I think we should and can expect a better quality of life than the 70’s.

Finally, moving to the suburbs is not really an option for us. Your comment that we should move if we don’t like it, in a way, really shows your own classism. To assume that only whites can be affected and that the relocating is even an option is offensive. Not everyone can just pick up and move to the burbs.

Gustavo
Gustavo
1 year ago
Reply to  Not having it

Probably you don’t have a family and children to care for and be afraid for.

UWSHebrew
UWSHebrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Not having it

Beware of anyone who uses the phrase “check your privelege”. It is Marxist drivel.

UWSHebrew
UWSHebrew
1 year ago
Reply to  UWSHebrew

*privilege

Uws citizen
Uws citizen
1 year ago

Monday there was an orange needle cap and some used matches on the steps to my brownstone. Wednesday there was a cut rubber band and multiple matches and a cigarette butt. At least one of these new neighbors at the hotels has found the steps of a random brownstone to be they best place to shoot up. I hope the needles don’t prick anyone walking around in sandals or putting away their trash and recycling. This isn’t just loitering, it’s open and flagrant drug use. This is CRAZY. There’s a school down the street from here.

David O
David O
1 year ago

This article is one of the reasons I read the westsiderag. Thank you.

CrankyPants
CrankyPants
1 year ago

Email, DM and call Helen Rosenthal. Email, DM and call Cuomo. DeBlasio is useless. Call the cops/911 if necessary (311 is useless) The hotels and Project Renewal will do nothing. We must reclaim the safety of our neighborhood for its tax paying residents and businesses. I am glad it’s getting media coverage. That is the only way the politicians seem to pay any attention. There have to be hotel options further from residential neighborhoods. What about all those places I see out by LaGuardia and JFK?

Westsider
Westsider
1 year ago

The trash on the Broadway medians at 78/79th, on 79th street b/w Broadway and Amsterdam is out of control in these last two weeks. All mixed in with aforementioned needles etc. Who’s going to take care of this? If this many more folks are going to move in, can our officials do something simple like organizing more cleaning crews? Or is that even too much to ask for?

TD Hudson
TD Hudson
1 year ago

Dear Neighbors – the issue is not a simple one and does not have an easy solution. We are in the midst of a deadly pandemic, the worst economy since the depression and we are fighting about housing some of our fellow human beings in an unused building so they don’t get and spread Covid 19. Yes some are working towards a better life and some are drug users. Surely we can support and welcome people like Da Homeless Hero and Mr. Smith. It would be nice if the drug dealers and users were given the option to either seek treatment or be transferred to more appropriate and secure location.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  TD Hudson

I appreciate your words. The bottom line is providing the proper services to treat people so that we can overcome our struggles with addiction or mental health issues. That’s why I’m trying to amplify my voice. I want to see the services provided so we’re treated like humans and not beasts of burden.

UWSer
UWSer
1 year ago
Reply to  TD Hudson

It will help Mr Smith if we remove the drug users from his cohabitation.

Tom
Tom
1 year ago

“NIMBY” is the ultimate thought-terminating cliché. It is pure ad hominem while simultaneously being meaningless. I mean, yeah, I really DON’T want 500 homeless men two blocks away from me, in a residential neighborhood full of children. What in the world would MAKE me want that? Performative wokeness masquerading as “empathy” seems more like self-hatred to this observer. No normal person wants these men here.

doodad
doodad
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom

Unable to tell if this comment is intended as satire…calling out a logical fallacy while ending with another.

TIpping Point
TIpping Point
1 year ago

Project Renewal’s move into the Lucerne with no community outreach is setting back the city’s efforts to provide a much-needed service and build consensus among the community.

If you care about building consensus to deal with MICA (mentally ill chemical abuser) homelessness, the move into Lucerne is a great case of exactly how not to do it.

Where to start? How about Project Renewal hold a public forum with the community and clearly define what it means by “Good Neighbor” policies which it is asking its residents to abide by. We can all do better.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  TIpping Point

I was just saying the same thing to the Head of Security. This is absolutely needed and I surmise that if done, would eliminate a lot of the concerns and proactively address the issues. A face to face, or virtual meeting should be done between all “stakeholders”.

KSS
KSS
1 year ago

DHH thank you for your stance in this. Wishing you the BEST of luck, health and happiness.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  KSS

Thank you very much for your words and all of you show that have commented have shown that there are so many good people in this community. I intend to reflect that energy as well. Thanks again.

CAG
CAG
1 year ago

I work in a homeless shelter and I meet so many wonderful men like you who are trying to improve their situation. Unfortunately, as you know, there are others who respect no one and only care about their next high. DHS is a joke-they talk about how much they care about homeless people but then treat them like crap. DHS, and their worthless security, ignores the rampant drug use and general criminal behavior in the shelters. I wish that there was a better option for guys like you and Mr. Smith. You deserve better and I am sorry that what the neighborhood, myself included, sees are the guys passed out, nodding, or harassing people. I walked through Central Park by 81st & CPW today and there was a group of five homeless guys smoking and drinking in the park-this is not ok. I just wish that there was some way to improve the situation for guys like you. I often tell neighbors that I encounter so many great guys in my job at the shelter, but then you add the drugs and alcohol and it all falls apart.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  CAG

Thanks for your words and you are so right. The fact that they have placed us all on one shelter due to our substance use disorder as it is now called, but do not provide treatment services to all is a travesty and to me, the fault lies with DHS and I do not feel they have real concern for us. It appears to be a way to hustle more money out of the state and government to combat problems this city perpetuates due to their ineffective policies.

Tipping Point
Tipping Point
1 year ago

Da Homeless Hero: you are a true hero! I hope at some point we have a chance to meet. Please know that the UWS supports you.

It pains me to see Project Renewal hiding behind DHS’s clandestine moves, secret contracts and no public outreach. What is DHS and Project Renewal concealing from the public? They are doing a disservice to the homeless community by hiding and end up making a difficult situation worse.

I sincerely wish you the best and hope that your voice is heard.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Tipping Point

Thanks for your words and by all means I’m willing to meet with anyone from the community. I believe that this could be the thing that forces some sort of change for the better but it will not be pleasurable, especially to those who have financially benefitted from this “problem” of homelessness. Many of us are definitely in need of help beyond a place to stay. We have varied issues that need to be addressed and so I would hope that despite what is seen by many of us, we look at the institutions that are given a lot of money to service us, as the true culprits in this issue. I believe are not being serviced in a manner that is conducive to the growth and development of human beings.

Project Renewal is indeed a great organization and of the many that I have seen or experienced, it is one that attempts to cover all grounds. Yet, there are issues with the way DHS restricts organizations so that it limits their ability to do things that might be more beneficial to those they intend to serve.

Many are responsible for providing inadequate services but we do have to look at the Mayor, and the head of DHS and our City Council. I encourage people to contact our city’s Public Advocate. Make him aware of what’s going on and have him use his position to cause accountability where accountability should be.

Contact JUMAANE D. WILLIAMS
New York City Public Advocate
reception@advocate.nyc.gov
(212)669-7200
Fax: (212)669-4701

NY Pedestrian
NY Pedestrian
1 year ago

DHH, You sound like an amazing person and it’s sad that a few bad seeds have given the residents at the Lucerne. You sound like you have direction, conviction, responsibility, and are strong and focused. Hope that you can find work with Project Renewal as they probably need someone like you to strenghten their organization. And hope that you find the support you need to continue on the right track 🙂

tailfins
tailfins
1 year ago

I think the streets are terrible. Unstable people are wandering around. People are sleeping on sidewalks and setting up camp. It needs to be fixed.

But, let’s also realize that the people who stole entire life savings in the financial crisis are also living in our neighborhood. They didn’t go to jail. There’s been no outcry. No one complains that their kids are in school with ours. Why not? I don’t really want my kids next to those morally bankrupt people. I don’t want those values coming into my home. It’s every bit as dangerous. But, one group gets locked up and the other group goes on without a peep.

priy A
priy A
1 year ago
Reply to  tailfins

Are you really comparing the two? Are these criminals you speak of urinating on the street, menacing residents as they walk by,. throwing trash on the street? Seriously?

GetReal
GetReal
1 year ago
Reply to  tailfins

Sure, that banker is just as likely to slice you open as you reload your metrocard…
The banker presents the same danger… GMAFB

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago
Reply to  tailfins

Well said.

Ethan
Ethan
1 year ago
Reply to  tailfins

Indeed, the real criminals are the people in power and the wealthy. And these are the people who complain the loudest about the homeless and downtrodden. “You got gangsters in power and lawbreakers making rules. When you gonna wake up?”

Jean Luke
Jean Luke
1 year ago

I walked by the Lucerne this afternoon and didn’t notice any problems. I feel bad though for Nice Matin having to deal with the scaffolding. Thats such a nice looking restaurant.

I remember the good old days in Jan. and Feb. when people would be mainly complaining about the height of 200 Amsterdam Ave.

Now people are getting punched at restaurants while dining out, stabbed at the 72nd Subway and dealing with large influx of homeless in the neighborhood.

200 Amsterdam by the way looks beautiful and the Facade, Setbacks and Crown all excellent architecture. I hope they don’t have to remove any floors as it will lose its grandeur and its an impressive building in the neighborhood.

Christine E
Christine E
1 year ago

Crime stats do not show an increase in crime because so much has been decriminalized. Like public urination, harrassment, and public drug use.

And clearly, if the police are “occasionally waiting for ambulances for overdoses,” these men are still using and any “treatment” is not working. Hotels near residences and schools are NOT an appropriate location for active drug addicts who are not monitored or receiving treatment. It is better to house them in empty airport hotels where they can be isolated and detoxify and rehab, while still satisfying the law to house them within the 5 boros. If they complete the treatment and pass regular drug tests they can “earn” the right to housing in a more populated neighborhood.

Housing them on UWS in the present conditions is not helping anyone except local dealers.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Christine E

I totally support Bruce in all that he has said. If I could add balance, I would say that Project Renewal is great at what it does, however, I think it has a lot of catching up to do. There’s a disconnect between, the community, residents in the hotel and the upper level people at Project Renewal. I’m speaking on these issues and sharing your concerns to get them to move faster and in a more proactive way. They do need to up their services for us. We need more and I would want you all to push that issue.

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  Christine E

reply to Christine:

they ARE monitored and receiving treatment. That is what Project Renewal (PR) does. this is a treatment facility.

have you looked into PR’s effectiveness and track record? those seem like relevant pieces of information.

Weldy
Weldy
1 year ago

What does the monitoring entail and what is PR’s success rate Bruce? Enlighten us!

Dave S
Dave S
1 year ago

I am a compassionate person but this needs to be put in perspective. A person earning 100k a year would not be able to afford the $63,875 annual rent being paid for these hotel rooms (before services).

A large percentage of the UWS is not “rich,” rather upper middle class folks who bought apartments many years ago (which is their primary asset). It is not being classist to resent having to cross back and forth across the street to avoid being accosted by belligerent people camped out on the sidewalk a few blocks away from their hotel rooms.

Additionally, if these individuals congregate without masks it defeats the alleged purpose of this entire exercise.

CG
CG
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave S

It’s worth noting that the hotel was receiving no income because of the pandemic, which is why it offered to participate in this program.

In addition to providing for social distancing for the homeless, this program has provided income to our hotel industry, which has been decimated by the pandemic.

William Dunn
William Dunn
1 year ago
Reply to  CG

My God? What planet are you on? Look at the photo accompanying this story. A large crowd of tightly packed men in the middle of 79th Street and Broadway not wearing any face masks. Apparently, you’re not concerned about this at all. The safety and health of neighborhood residents and children are equally as important.

Nervous UWS-er
Nervous UWS-er
1 year ago

I typed this story up shortly after the incident happened very late Monday night. Here it is…

A little after 1:30am I ran over to the Duane Reade that is directly across the street from the Lucern Hotel. When I got inside a very angry man was arguing with the cashier about something. After I got my items & went to the cashier, he had already left. She told me he was staying at the Lucern (to her knowledge) and that he wanted to buy beer, didn’t have enough money & was arguing with her to let him have it anyway. I asked if they were having any problems from the Lucern & she told me all day, every day. She said they come in drunk, high, strung out & how the previous night one had an overdose in the back of the store & the police had to come as well as paramedics & be taken away. So as I go to leave I’m standing on the corner (in front of the newsstand) waiting to cross the street. While waiting I see the man who was arguing with the cashier across & on the other side, in front of where the recently closed deli is. He is now shirtless, without a mask & comes running across towards me very fast & very aggressive as cars were coming down Amsterdam. He came right up to me & started screaming into my face that he wanted to talk to me. I was kind of frozen, very scared & told him I had to get home. He backed off a bit, then got right into my face again & continued screaming & cursing at me, now angry for not being willing to talk to him. I could feel his spit hit my forehead from his screaming. When the walk sign came I started to quickly walk away & as I did he was still screaming & calling me terrible names that all started with the word f**k. This was not an older man but someone in their late 20’s, in very muscular shape, a large build & tall. As I cross there I turned around & he was staring at me from across the street, still cursing at me. He then crossed the street to the Lucern & I saw him walk up the stairs & go in. Shortly after I got home I called the hotel & spoke to the manager. He was very nice but explained that they had nothing to do with them, that it was Project Renewal & told me I could speak to someone. I did, told the story & said the man ran into the Lucern & the time. As I started to describe him he told me he knew exactly who I was referring to. He said that he was not one of theirs, but this person was continually coming into the hotel trying to stay with someone else that he knows there or get his own room. He explained that he is from another shelter in Brooklyn, but knows that he’s been hanging out up here trying to find a way in.

I have lived in this neighborhood 18 years now. I have been out late & never once did I ever have an encounter where I actually feared for my life. To have a man across the street see you, run across with cars coming right at him & not even flinch, no shirt, no mask & then get right into your face & scream at you on the top of their lungs is exceptionally frightening. I truly felt I was going to be harmed. The night before this another man was laying backwards in a planter on my block screaming & cursing until the police and then an ambulance came to take him away. The neighborhood is getting very scary & I’m not sure what can be done to fix this situation.

uwsgal
uwsgal
1 year ago
Reply to  Nervous UWS-er

Here is a proactive suggestion. We can help the police, as well as the hotels identify the miscreants. if the hotel personnel know who the person is, and say he is not properly in the hotel, they can have him arrested as a trespasser. They may not want to take that action, but they can.
Furthermore, they should give a copy of his photo and id, and communicate with the 20 pct. If he acted so irrationally and made you nervous, he has done such actions before, and will continue to do so, and at least the Police will be able to i.d. him, and be able to build a case against him.
It is disheartening that the sucker puncher was let go because the outdoor dining victim declined to press charges–but when he harms other people, at least the police will be able to identify him.

Yep
Yep
1 year ago
Reply to  Nervous UWS-er

I’m sorry that happened to you.

Bruce, any thoughts on this one?

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Nervous UWS-er

I totally encourage you to bring this situation to the Head of Security for Project Renewal… It’s possible that some may have mental illness or whatever… Regardless, this behavior is not acceptable… Please, refer this incident to Project Renewal’s Head of Security so they can identify who the person is and transfer him to a place where they can be given the appropiate services.

HelenD
HelenD
1 year ago
Reply to  Nervous UWS-er

Thank you for sharing this. I don’t know what to say anymore, when so many people refuse to see the reality of the situation and toss around the word privilege just because it isn’t happening to them personally. Stay safe. 🙁

JC
JC
1 year ago

If we all attend the “Build The Block” Meetings and make our voices heard, then they will have to do something. Not necessarily removal, (since the contract is until October, so settle in UWS’ers, these men are going nowhere), but clear, concise ideas and vocal communication at these meetings to try and stop the harrassment, the drug use, the sleeping on the sidewalks, and find a way to create a dialogue with these men to insist that they WEAR THEIR F*CKING MASKS!!!!

All of the information was provided in a WSR article this week. Scroll down the WSR website for details for your specific neighborhood. I will be at mine next Friday.

Stay Safe, Stay Calm, Stay Vigilant.

CG
CG
1 year ago

Two weeks ago, before the men moved into the Lucerne, a thread here on the WSR had numerous comments to the effect that ‘this will kill Nice Matin’.

Every time i walk by, which is almost daily, Nice Matin is bustling and the tables are full. Ditto for all the other restaurants with sidewalk dining along Amsterdam, 76-83.

There is a LOT of exaggeration and fearmongering. If the local NYPD precinct hasn’t seen an increase in crime, perhaps people should just calm down a bit.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago
Reply to  CG

Exactly. Hyperbole is flying all over the place.

HelenD
HelenD
1 year ago
Reply to  CG

I suppose people will believe what they want to believe even when the truth is right in front of their eyes. Do you really want to use restaurants as a rule of thumb? Did you see this article? My block is the one in the 4th photo. Gebhard’s and the Emerald Inn are both doing business a few feet away. If this is acceptable then it’s pointless to even try and have a discussion here.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8603433/Upper-West-residents-fury-homeless-junkies-sex-offenders-moved-luxury-hotels.html

Dave K.
Dave K.
1 year ago
Reply to  CG

I am Mesmerized, I just got home, a man was winging a knife on the 79th and Broadway, the police just came and he ran up 79th street.
He wasn’t here a few weeks ago. I have always been helpful to the less advantaged, but enough is enough I want to walk peacefully up Broadway, I want to take my walks in the morning without being harassed. What is wring with that, I am a hard working UWS resident and I deserve to
live in peace. It is that simple and it is not a lot to ask for and if any of you don’t think our neighborhood has changed, if any of you aren’t concerned for your child’s safety now that school will be open then I truly feel sorry for you.

LK
LK
1 year ago
Reply to  CG

Ask NYPD, if the assault on a restaurant patron ( documented in this paper ) was registered as a crime. Then you’ll know why NYPD’s statistics is disconnected from the real life.

Tom
Tom
1 year ago

Almost zero mention of how this all negatively impacts local businesses, trying to coax folks out of their bunker and into their stores and restaurants. People have choices, most will just go elsewhere.

Unsolicitedopinion
Unsolicitedopinion
1 year ago

Sure, it is not an ideal situation but you know what’s worse? Being homeless.

Gerry vali
Gerry vali
1 year ago

For the person who has junkies,etc.hanging out on their stoop – just keep throwing pails of water on the stoop. The lowlifes won’t sit on a wet stoop. Always worked for us when we lived on the East Side. We had the only stoop on our side of the block and people would congregate. Just don’t throw the water when people are sitting there – could cause a scene.

SBG
SBG
1 year ago

I admire what Bruce Bernstein has been writing. My guess is he lives somewhat further uptown, on the same street where I live a block closer to Broadway. I completely agree — I have seen absolutely no antisocial activities on our blocks — the veterans in the homeless shelter seem like good neighbors. And if Bruce is my neighbor too, I’m happy to think so.

Metoo
Metoo
1 year ago
Reply to  SBG

The veterans shelter is a totally different ballgame than the Lucern and the other two hotels. Apples and oranges comparison.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Metoo

After several incidents where veterans where victims of violence a lot has been done to accomodate them including shelters dedicated to providing them with proper care. Housing as well. Unfortunately, those with substance use disorder are not prioritized in the same way. It’s definitely apples and oranges.

20 Years in the Neighborhood
20 Years in the Neighborhood
1 year ago

I will not join that FB group, but I am concerned that people appear to be posting photographs of homeless men that show their faces. The photographs, from what I read here and heard on NPR, sound potentially dehumanizing. The rules on the FB page don’t seem to mention anything explicit about respecting the human rights of the homeless people, but it might be worth considering setting particular parameters for images/video. Even blurring faces would respect their right to privacy, although it doesn’t really help with the dehumanizing problem.

If I am mistaken and the photographs are, indeed, respectful, I apologize. This situation has become so inflamed that I find myself thinking the worst of people!

92nd Street
92nd Street
1 year ago

This is Mayor de Blasio’s NYC.
This is what he wanted, and end to the Bloomberg’s NYC, where Junkies were out of sight, out of mind.
de Blasio has brought back an earlier age where we must watch our step lest we stumble on a hypodermic needle and where grown men offer our children drugs.

This is Mayor de Blasio’s New York City, until he is out of office, get used to it.

Bluebell
Bluebell
1 year ago

It’s a disaster that you have no say in fixing. You know it and you’re all stuck with it. Count on way past October when their stay gets extended. Good luck. You’re gonna need it, UWS.

Simon
Simon
1 year ago

Where are the police? At least we should see an officer on every other corner on Broadway, no? Why did it take 15 minutes for police to arrive at Pappardella after that man was randomly punched??? 15 minutes???!!!! Just how expendable are we? A random punch here, a stabbing there, being spit on, etc. Just read some of these comments to understand that we are aware of just a very small fraction of the assaults that are taking place. How many times has someone commented upon someone else’s comment that “my friend was also beaten”? Many of these shelters pay their executives handsomely with salaries above $200,000 for less than 40 hour work weeks. Do these shelters and hotels have processes in place to identify people who they may have reason to believe could be violent? And can such shelters be held liable for the actions of those who are in their care that they have reason to believe are a danger to others? Isn’t there some duty they have to the safety of the community? Apparently, we, and our children, are sacrificial and expendable ducks. We know there will be more people stabbed. For those who have been paying attention, this stuff was going on actually before the pandemic even started and before the conversion of hotels to shelters. It is 100x worse now. WHERE ARE THE POLICE??

staten islander
staten islander
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon

My neighbor was an NYPD officer assigned to the 20th Precinct. He is not going to do anything even remotely aggressive to help you people anymore. At one time he loved working on the UWS but not anymore. Why should he risk his life and career in the current anti-NYPD environment? He’s 6 years away from retirement and recently transferred to the 123rd Pct. on S.I. where his hard work will be appreciated.

You are on your own now…………..

lynn
lynn
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon

Even more disturbing, where were the police that have been stationed outside the subway station on 72nd and B’way for years? The man who randomly stabbed the woman at the Metrocard kiosk ‘disappeared’ a block away on 73rd street. How is that possible?

Sammy
Sammy
1 year ago
Reply to  lynn

Lynn this situation makes me livid. I use 72nd street train 5 days a week. It’s swarming with cops. The original police report says the cops were alerted a man got on the train at 42nd street with a knife. They stopped the train knowing he was on there. Not only did they not get him…he managed to stab someone? How is this possible? Also, all of a sudden a day after this woman gets stabbed I go to get the train and it’s the first time in forever there are no cops at the station!! Wtf?? Police are clearly in one of their work slowdowns. With so few ppl I the city (no tourists, most ppl still WFH) the city should he easier to police. But, it appears they’d rather appear on Fox News to tell how horrible the city it rather than fix things

Danielle Remp
Danielle Remp
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon

It is my understanding, from listening daily to the Mayor’s news briefings, that the NYPD was currently concentrated in high gun-shooting boroughs.

Further, during mid-July, the Mayor announced that he was shifting the responsibility of homeless outreach away from the NYPD, and into social services.

Here is an August 3rd excerpt about this shift from a posting by Coalition for the Homeless:

“Fortunately, after repeated calls from homeless New Yorkers and advocates, New York City finally announced homeless outreach will be shifted away from the NYPD and be done entirely by the City’s social services agency.”

https://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/press/removing-nypd-from-homeless-outreach-is-a-long-overdue-positive-step-heres-what-must-come-next-2/#:~:text=Fortunately%2C%20after%20repeated%20calls%20from,the%20City%27s%20social%20services%20agency.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Danielle Remp

Before entering the shelter, I was offered help by an officer. To get help I had to “agree” to have my name checked for warrants, be placed in handcuffs, and transported to a jail cell until they could transport me to a shelter. If I stayed in the shelter, the ticket they wrote up would be dismissed. I was traumatized by this experience.

Yet, the idea of using outreach workers is a waste of money. Most of these workers are not trained to deal with the varied issues most homeless people face. They’re milking the system with these contracts.

https://nypost.com/2020/01/16/dinapoli-blasts-failed-subway-homeless-outreach-contract/

Pedestrian
Pedestrian
1 year ago

Peoole who are voicing objection are attacked as lacking compassion but the City that has ignored the problem of the homeless for years while focusing on getting massive benefits for billionaires and developers gets to excuse itself.

People are tired of having to carry the burden for electeds who are more interested in serving big money that the people Thayer are supposed to represent.

Gia
Gia
1 year ago

It’s unfortunate that WSR can’t have two message boards, one for people that have children and one for those that don’t have children (though I’m sure that everyone will say they do have children, but I don’t believe it). It’s easy to be self-righteous when you don’t have a child that you are afraid to let outside at 8pm to walk the dog. People are being randomly attacked and the problem is real and occurring much more often than people think.

Larry K
Larry K
1 year ago

Interesting that there are NO homeless shelters in the vacinity of the Park Slope area of 11th St between 6th & 7th Avenues (public information)where DeBlasio owns his home. Wonder if he plans to return to it after he’s demoted as Mayor? Perhaps he could equalize the shelter locations.

Lorene Farnsworth
Lorene Farnsworth
1 year ago

This is a divisive issue if I’ve ever seen one. As a resident of Midtown West, I’ve watched our hotels be turned into homeless shelters since the second week of March, then came the group of fun-loving guys from Riker’s Island. No one “consulted” us either, but then, no one ever consults us about anything, as anyone who has ever lived in this neighborhood can attest to.

I guess what I’m saying is we are all going through this right now, but it won’t last forever, so why don’t we just try to make the best of it? It’s also important to remember this is an unprecedented time in our history, a time that makes it impossible for our lives to remain the same, no matter how badly we want them to, at least for a while. That said, good luck to you all and stay safe, that is what I’ll be continuing to focus on anyway.

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

There were people masturbating openly on wea and 79 this week. Not ever had that before this

Mrs. DK
Mrs. DK
1 year ago

Let me tell you a little story. My great uncle moved to the Lucerne hotel some 40 odd years ago. He is one of the few older residents of the hotel that still resides there. Management didn’t even have the decency to tell them that it was happening. It is heartbreaking that we have to find him alternative accommodation with COVID-19 lurking everything. It is a great initiative that the city is housing these men but I don’t think there was any communication and warning to the few Lucerne residents and the UWS residents.

Unreal
Unreal
1 year ago

Ok, that 72nd subway stabbing video is downright terrifying.

Neal Hurwitz
Neal Hurwitz
1 year ago

My own experience with Project Renewal is not good.

JC
JC
1 year ago

If this doesn’t bother the supporters of housing these 500 men in 3 UWS hotels, nothing will.

https://nypost.com/2020/08/07/nyc-illegally-housing-pedophiles-near-upper-west-side-playground/

Ted
Ted
1 year ago

I wonder what the actual analytics say about this situation. Are these shelters spread equally and equitably across the city. Is the city making the best possible use of taxpayer money by housing them at the three UWS locations. Are there audits and checks that demonstrate that the city is not juking the stats as they say on The Wire.

About a year ago myself, my wife and a friend with her young daughter were walking down the north side of 79th street towards riverside at about 9:30pm. From behind we could hear a man loudly swearing and exclaiming he was moving faster than we were and about when we thought he would pass us we moved out of his way. He was carrying several bottles of what looked like beer and was drinking from one. As he passed he stopped and confronted us yelling obscenities and making vague threats. The most concerning thing was that he seemed to be deciding whether to throw the beer bottle at us.

It was a tense confrontation and thankfully he continued on his way. I am a 30 year UWSer and it was the closest I have come to a real physical confrontation.

Not saying the singular makes the rule but substance abuse and certain mental illnesses impair judgement significantly and can lead to adverse outcomes.

David Marks
David Marks
1 year ago

Upper West Siders, you voted these politicians in for multiple terms, now your complaining. Until you vote republican, get use to your living conditions.

Steven Marc
Steven Marc
1 year ago
Reply to  David Marks

I am just not a political person but where is Jerry Nadler? I haven’t heard a thing from him on this issue and he is our congressman. This UWS candidate Cathy Bernstein uploaded a video about this issue a week or so ago. I never write about politics and recently joined this board but supporting folks who are at least trying to fight for us is what we need. That it what they are here for. Again, where is Jerry Nadler? He must know about this issue, isn’t it his job to at least acknowledge the problem?

Reed
Reed
1 year ago

Homeless men have a much tougher time vs. women. Generally, men are not welcome in NYC communities and certainly men in general are treated aggressively both physically and verbally by our society. Both the City and non-profit groups need to look at this ‘at-risk’ population using common sense tactics in order to integrate these men into the community; 1. reducing the population, 2. provide services during the day, 3. offer opportunities to be involved. I wonder how the City, non-profits and the community would treat women with the same problems and so many lumped together in one building. I suspect that men have inferior social services, inferior housing, and I question if so many women of with the same behaviors would be placed in one building without any positive direction and support.

Rachel
Rachel
1 year ago

The lack of engagement with the UWS community by the Department of Homeless Services is appalling. By their own admission at least two of the residents say they know of a “few” good men living in these hotels. I would hardly call the UWS a “gated community.” Between the projects and pre-existing shelters, the UWS has always been a melting pot. I, facing difficult financial times, had to leave the UWS that I called home for more than 25 years and hundreds of men get to live in luxury hotels for free?!!! Sign me up. I’d like the opportunity to live the hotel life!!!

Susan
Susan
1 year ago
Reply to  Rachel

I have lived near three shelters for many years and have not had any issues with them.
The incidents noted in these letters highlight a difference between our well run shelters and the hasty placement of hundreds of drug addicts in our midst.
Of course it is a problem.

Lil vic
Lil vic
1 year ago

Hopefully no one here complaining is a Democrat. How hypocritical it would be to go against the progressive left and their new vision for New York City. ( I.e. Bill DeBlasio). You voted these people in now live with them and don’t state. …..”oh my we never saw this coming “……

Lyriclark
Lyriclark
1 year ago

Mr.Bernstein: are you profiting financially from the ruination of the UWS? Are you aware that NYC has 5 boroughs 4 of which are larger than Manhattan? Do you know Shimmie Horn? Do you actually live here? Stop pretending the housing of these men is just fine. The Belleclaire was first. A terribly corrupt place. They put the West Side Market out of business on W.76th st. We couldn’t cross the street to get to CVS. These men lunged and shouted and scared kids and seniors and anyone. They wander around the neighborhood half dressed filthy and abusive. Urinating on the street and sprawled out on the sidewalk. We are accosted daily visually emotionally and physically-note the man randomly punched while eating outside, the woman stabbed at 72nd st.Station etc. This is a hideous idea and whoever planned it and agreed to it-has an agenda based on their own greed and profit. Unless of course, the bigger picture: desire to destroy NYC one neighborhood at a time. In addition, the Dept.of Homeless Services/Steven Banks complete failure/complete ignorance. THEY are the “affront to basic decency”.

UWSHebrew
UWSHebrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Lyriclark

Shimmie Horn is truly awful. He lives in a mansion in Teaneck. As long as his hotels make money, he does not care, at all, what happens to the UWS. Check out this 2011 expose of him

https://nypost.com/2011/06/19/wealthy-stealthy/

TA
TA
1 year ago

The Lucerne was a beautiful building in the neighborhood. With this ugly scaffolding, it looks like it could be anything including a shelter. So sad.

Ted
Ted
1 year ago

The fact that there is any debate on how bad this is is why I’m out. No more UWS.

AL
AL
1 year ago

I think the push back seriously began when a THIRD shelter opened, and when it became known that sex offenders were allowed to be here if they were off parole and loitering groups became apparent.

Do all communities in all boroughs have three shelters open? If not, then perhaps there should be some equity in where shelters are opened.

Barbra
Barbra
1 year ago

Maybe men like Geoffrey Smith and other well meaning residents can help point out the drug users to security guards and medics to bring them to a place to deal with the addictions. Someone with authority ( not police) needs to step in with some neighborhood guidelines for them so the addicts can be separated from those who just want a peaceful room to nest in. There are two sides to this, and if the Dept of Health put some effort in, it could be resolved so locals don’t feel threatened and the homeless can have some temporary security. Call the Dept of Health and DEMAND they bring over some people over to HELP! NOT THE POLICE-we don’t need violence as a way to resolve this and that’s all they know. It’s complicated, and clearly wasn’t thought through at all. Of course DeBlasio must bear the responsibility rather than making excuses.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Barbra

That’s a great point that I, people from Project Renewal’s Recovery Center and the Head of Security for Project Renewal agree on. We definitely don’t want to have too much police presence for fear that everything people were fighting for these past few months will be for naught. We don’t want to criminalize the homeless, who need other services. There is going to be an effort to have peer counselors come by regularly and work with those of who are residents, including those who are not yet in recovery.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago

The rag is censoring comments.

Headline is misleading. Reading top to bottom:
The neighborhood is not split.
Most would like them out of here.

Overnight Rosenthal pushed them in. Then went back to her doorman building. My family does not have a doorman.

YOU MIGHT LIKE...

this week's events image

Extra, Extra!

Authentically Local

Explore Your Favorite Subject

Neighborhood Splits Over New Homeless Hotel Residents; Police, Homeless Men and Opponents Weigh In


Photo by Joy Bergmann.

By Mariel Priven and Jacob Rose

The relocation of hundreds of homeless men to hotels on the Upper West Side has alarmed local residents, and led to a split between those who think it’s led to a drastic deterioration in the quality of life here and those who find the backlash against the shelter too extreme.

Almost two weeks have passed since 283 men experiencing homelessness were placed in the Lucerne on 79th Street, and there are some noticeable changes to the area, like groups of men hanging out under scaffolding and in the Broadway medians. Several Upper West Siders have cited incidences of public drug use, disturbances, conflicts in stores, and lack of mask-wearing from Lucerne residents. In addition, community residents have raised concerns about two other shelters operating inside hotels — the Belnord (209 W. 87th St) and the Belleclaire (77th & Broadway) — that have been in use for several weeks.

But The Lucerne seemed to be the tipping point.

A Facebook group called Upper West Siders for Safer Streets that was organized after the shelter was first announced late last month now has about 3,000 members and they regularly post pictures of men lying on the ground or otherwise out of sorts. The group requests that people who support the shelters “please do not join”.

Photo of men in the Broadway median by Robert, a member of Upper West Siders for Safer Streets.

Upper West Siders for Safer Streets has been publicizing a petition to relocate the men, and it’s gotten more than 4,000 signatures.

The PTA of PS 87 — which sits on 78th Street off of Amsterdam and is known for raising more money than almost any school in the city — sent a letter to parents urging them to join the group.

“There have been fights at 79th and Amsterdam, on Broadway between 79th and 80th,” the letter says. “Some of community families have been verbally harassed, men have been spitting in Metal Park (in Covid times) and sadly, some have reported seeing men looking for drugs or using drugs. Additionally, there has been loitering in metal park which can lead to ‘contraband’ and needles left in the park placing our children at risk.”

Others in the neighborhood say the Facebook group is a NIMBY response to the plight of troubled people.

“Even in one of the neighborhoods in the country with the most MSNBC viewers, there are thousands of residents willing to sign a petition kicking people experiencing homelessness out of shelters during one of the most severe economic downturns in history,” wrote Sam Koppelman, who grew up in the neighborhood, on Twitter. “If you want to end segregation, if you want to end white supremacy, if you want to bring about justice, you have to live your values in your backyard.”

A separate petition looks to embrace the shelters, or at least find a way to work with them. It argued that the men’s placement at The Lucerne would help reduce COVID-19 spread among the homeless and the general public, and help promote recovery among men dealing with “addiction, mental health issues, joblessness, health concerns, and other things that contribute to chronic homelessness.”

It cited evidence that crime has not risen since the men’s arrival at The Lucerne. “We must parse out the perceived risk vs. real risk,” the petition reads.

One parent at PS 87 who shared the PTA’s letter with the Rag wrote that it included “classist and racist innuendo,” adding “I’m ashamed that I ever gave that PTA a dime.”

“My next check will be to Project Renewal, the organization running The Lucerne shelter,” the parent wrote. “That’s an organization that truly needs it.”

Robert, a member of the Upper West Siders for Safer Streets group, said he thinks the people in the group are “coming from an empathetic place but at the same time, we need to sit down with these people and come up with a solution, because we were not given that opportunity.” Robert, like many locals, continues to feel disheartened by the community’s lack of awareness of and involvement in the Department of Homeless Service’s decision to house these men in these UWS hotels.

Local resident Chris Caldwell told the Rag that he saw a man shooting heroin on 82nd and Broadway on Monday night; nearby individuals told him the man had exited the Lucerne. Caldwell said that several families with young children walked up and down Broadway during the incident. “I volunteer at the Homeless Shelter at Assumption church and have great love in my heart for the homeless,” he said. “This is disturbing though, as there were multiple children within a block.”

“What I’ve noticed is they’re hanging around, they’re not wearing masks. There’s been a lot of arguments, a lot of loitering,” said Jill, an owner of Blondie’s across the street. She said her staff has to ask them to keep moving along. “I think they need more security guards.” She said she had to call cops about a loud argument going on across the street. “It’s coming down to us to police it and it shouldn’t be. I’m constantly moving these guys away.”

Mariano Ouatu, the manager of Coppola’s down the block also expressed concern. “We’re losing a lot of our customers,” he said. After 9 p.m. and during lunch, customers are dissuaded from coming in because of loud fighting on the street, he said. And more customers are now ordering in instead of sitting outside.

Other business owners have not experienced the same issues. Keith Lewis, owner of 79th Street Pharmacy, says men come into the store in twos and threes, “very nice but not buying anything.”


A flyer in opposition to the shelter was written over: “Homeless people deserve safety and decent homes.” Photo by Joy Bergmann.

A homeless resident of The Lucerne who goes by the name Da Homeless Hero said that he and some other residents have been trying to address negative behaviors by other men at the shelter.

“I want to let you know that I and a few other residents actually go outside and walk around and confront those who may be openly doing something that they should not be doing and encouraging them to respect the community,” he wrote in an email to West Side Rag. “In most cases, our wishes are respected but there are times when the response can be hostile for we are but residents and have not the authority to tell someone what to do. Yet, we do take that initiative, especially when we see them in areas that we know the security will not cover. We call this ‘policing ourselves’. I want the community to know that there are some of us who are definitely trying to do the right thing for ourselves and this community that we are in. We’re not trying to let some bad apples make the rest of us look bad and I know I, myself, do want to feel safe in my environment.”

Capt. Neil Zuber, commander of the 20th precinct, says he has not seen a spike in crime since the shelters came in. In fact, major crime in the precinct is down 10% this year.

“911 calls around the shelters have increased, but they are largely for things that didn’t merit a 911 call,” he told West Side Rag. “I think people are understandably very sensitive about the new shelters and calling 911 for every perceived reason. Other than occasionally waiting for ambulances for overdoses, we haven’t had much of a role.”

Asked about neighbors’ complaints, Project Renewal sent a statement.

“We are proud to work with the city to help fight the COVID pandemic,” Project Renewal said in the statement. “Our 70 staff and security members will be here around the clock to ensure the well being of our clients and to work in partnership with the community.”

The Department of Homeless Services reiterated its mission and legal obligation to provide shelter and services to all New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and said, “the notion that they are not welcome in some neighborhoods for any reason is an affront to basic decency. We don’t discriminate based on people’s previous experiences or backgrounds, and we will not create gated communities within our City – we extend a helping hand, no matter what.”

For some residents of the shelter, the experience has been a positive one — a chance to live in a more-private room rather than a crowded shelter. “For me, it’s great. I come here from work, get to lay down, get A/C, peace of mind,” said Geoffrey Smith, a new resident at The Lucerne who was moved from a shelter in The Bowery.

Smith works in housekeeping at the Javits Center and has a roommate who works in New Jersey. He says they both get back to the hotel around 10 o’clock most days, take a shower, and leave around 5 in the morning. “We already have a stigma being in a shelter. Nobody wants to be in a shelter, everybody wants to be at home. But it’s up to them to use that as a stepping stone.” Are most people using it as a stepping stone? “I don’t know. I know a few good dudes in there using it as a stepping stone.” He wants to use this opportunity to work towards getting his own home, keep saving, and ultimately “be happy.”

guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

196 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago

One regular WSR commenter has repeatedly (and anonymously) called the men in the Lucerne “the worst of the worst.” This is sickening.

It’s obvious to me that men like Da Homeless Hero (DHH) and Geoffrey Smith, both quoted above, are among “the best of the best”. Despite obstacles, they keep struggling and working and doing the best they can. I compare them favorably to a lot of well-to-do former UWS residents who are moving out, or threatening to do so.

The picture above of “men in the Broadway median” shows nothing wrong, other than Sitting and Standing While Black. What does it prove? Should more be wearing masks? Yes. But guess what… take a picture of a bunch of NYPD cops in uniform hanging out, and see how many are wearing masks.

The number of homeless moved in quickly was too many, and the community should have been consulted. But let’s not pretend that there is not an awful lot of elitist and even racist sentiments at play in the opposition. Dept of Homeless Services is right, the UWS is no gated community.

Chased Out of UWS
Chased Out of UWS
1 year ago

It appears “Da Homeless Hero” is the marginal case and having him intertwined with the rest of the group there seems to be a huge disservice to him.

If you think the vast majority of this crew is truly working to improve their lives, you may be part of the problem

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago

I totally agree with you.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago

Bruce, I agree with you. I do not want to live in a gated UWS. Some of the comments I read are so blatantly racist and classist. We can’t (and shouldn’t) try to exclude people from the neighborhood. This is New York City. It is a city that is open to all.

CG
CG
1 year ago

Thank you, Bruce. A compassionate and fact-based comment.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago

Thanks Bruce for your words and we are encouraged to continue doing our best to show that we are worthy of the same respect given to anyone who is trying to make their way in this city of ours. One of the places I do go to is the medium to encourage those who are there to visit Central Park and Riverside Park and see the beauty that is there. Ironically, some of the people who are there are not familiar with the parks or other areas and it takes some communication to get them to know what’s around. However, there are some who we do approach and convince to abide by basic rules and levels of decency.

With 283 people some will not comply but I can assure you that the Head of Security is quick to address those issues and get things straightened out. I spoke with him today and alerted to the concerns and he is working on a way to deal with it. What we don’t want is to criminalize people simply because they are congregating in a place or because they are homeless. That could be dangerous in the long run. Thanks again for you comments and we will keep trying to do the right thing for ourselves and the community we are now living in.

Sammy
Sammy
1 year ago

I appreciate hearing your story. I think we all want people to get better. The men quoted in this article is what we all want to see. I am happy to have people like that. It seems like project renewal isn’t doing their job in rehabilitating everyone….bc there are clearly still doing drugs.They sit in the median all day & smoke etc. I personally don’t feel threatened by them physically. My main concern is Covid. They aren’t wearing masks and they are spitting, smoking. I see them go into the store I always go to which is small. A group setting like you they are living Covid can spread like wildfire…then they are in the street & stores. That’s my main concern a Covid outbreak. I do understand the concerns of restaurants. Let’s not forget they are finally back in business after Covid. If they are now losing customers/business bc of this I get their frustration. Since there is no indoor dining it’s easy for diners to be bothered. I think everyone wants people to get better and have a chance in life. I find the men quoted very inspiring. It can’t be easy. It’s just some of the men don’t seem committed and project renewal could help get them on the right path.

Rachel
Rachel
1 year ago
Reply to  Sammy

Well said, Sammy!! DHH and Geoffrey Smith are true inspirations. Unfortunately, they are in the minority. The decision to move some residents out of these “temporary” shelters proves the point that a large number of dangerous individuals have been moved into a neighborhood they shouldn’t have been in in the first place!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago

Thank you to Da Homeless Hero and Bruce for your comments.

w 71st resident
w 71st resident
1 year ago

Bruce, I think your take is the correct one. I think that in such an unprecedented crisis, we should extend compassion and grace to all– including those with fewer material means. I think that this indeed should have communicated with better, but we shouldn’t reject the opportunity to help others based on a phantom of suspicion and fear. I do hope that the organizing bodies are able to address the more serious concerns that have been raised, but we’ve hardly given them a chance to.

Craig Heard
Craig Heard
1 year ago

I suggest you open your eyes and look at the photograph.

Notice how none of these people are wearing face masks.

The claimed reason these 283 homeless men with drug histories were shipped to this single location in the first place was supposed to be to guarantee a safe distance between them during the Covid plague.

This endangers everyone in the community.

TBEPS
TBEPS
1 year ago

Do you believe that housing “Da Homeless Hero” and Geoff Smith with a large number of violent active drug abusers is helping them???
How does it make sense to put 283 men in a building together when some are in recovery and working and others are violent and buying drugs AROUND THE CORNER ON BROADWAY???
You are setting up these men for failure.
Project Renewal has some serious program evaluating to do.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  TBEPS

I agree with you on this which is why I initially spoke on this issue. I thought it was wrong to tell the community that 283 men who were “in recovery” were coming to the community. That is irresponsible when the reality is that while many of us work and are indeed in recovery there is still a significant amount who are not receiving treatment of any kind and this issue has to be addressed to ensure that we all are able to live among each other in peace.

I’ve encouraged Project Renewal’s Recovery Center to do outreach and have a presence here to accomodate not just me, but those who are need but have not be actively in recovery. They have been here at the Lucerne and will be coming on a regular basis. I’ve spoken to other officials within Project Renewal about the same thing and they are definitely hearing what I am saying and the community.

One thing I can tell you is that a number of people have been transfered to places outside of the community because it’s obvious they need a “higher level of care” and will not be able to adjust. However, it will take some time to address others who may be in need of such. In the meantime, I will continue to talk to my co-residents to understand how they can address their needs in a healthy way while being here. As I’ve said before, a plush hotel room is not the cure all for substance use disorder and mental health issues. There is much more that needs to be done and it’s the responsibility of DHS and Project Renewal to ensure that we get those services.

Thanks for your comment and observation

Leon
Leon
1 year ago

Thank you DHH – you seem like an admirable person and I wish you the best. Unfortunately, as you noted, there is a significant population of people in these hotels who are not upstanding citizens like you. I appreciate your efforts to improve the situation from the inside.

If the hotels were full of people like DHH, I don’t think there would be the uproar. If the worst offense was people congregating without masks, I don’t think there would be an uproar. But public drug dealing and usage, fights, and harassment of innocent bystanders is not OK. The police need to enforce the law. I don’t know why they have chosen not to. It is not just for the benefit of UWS residents but also the people like DHH who are using the hotels as a way to try to become self-sufficient.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Leon

Thanks Leon,

I appreciate your words, and yes, the police need to be more present. I did my daily walk yesterday and talked to some people and while a few where receptive to my suggestions, some just ignored me and gave me a funny look. DHS should have worked with the community. This is a temporary thing for sure but because we’re expected to be here at least until January, we all should have been well informed. Believe it or not, most of us who are residents were told we were being transferred on the day or a few days before the transfer. For some, that was a major shock. I fear that there will be physical violence at some point. It’s a bad situation. Hopefuly, all of the comments, whether we agree or disagree are heard so DHS can understand their mistake and do what is necessary to fix it, if that is even possible. I do respect this community and have lived here in the past. It’s a great community.

Thanks again.

adami
adami
1 year ago

Bruce – thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments. Would like to have a beer in the median with you some day. Post Covid. Though as far as I know, that is/was/will still be illegal. So in a paper bag?

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  adami

thank you Adami… thank you for your positive and constructive energy. I look forward to chatting peacefully on the Broadway median.

GG
GG
1 year ago

Great!

Is this what the UWS really needs more of?? Drunken loitering?? Great example for the neighborhood.

Way to be a positive influence and contribute to the community.

Face Facts
Face Facts
1 year ago

‘Sitting and Standing While Black’ can and does easily become ‘Committing Violent Assaults While Black’ against ‘Walking By While While Being an Elderly White Person’.

This happens. You cannot deny this happens. We have seen it reported here. Some of us have seen it with our own eyes. Some of us, unfortunately, have experienced it.

So spare us the self-righteous blather. Your Race Baiting withers in the Face of Facts.

El Dobo
El Dobo
1 year ago
Reply to  Face Facts

“Face facts” must be an ironic name since this comment offers no facts whatsoever.

Just Sayin'
Just Sayin'
1 year ago

Says the guys who lives comfortably on Central Park West. Wait till they start getting closer to your backyard. Lets see if if you feel the same!

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  Just Sayin'

i don’t live on CPW. I live on a block that had two buildings as homeless shelters for approx 10 years (placed there under Bloomberg). No increase in crime, no change in quality of life, property values continued to rise. Now one building is no longer a shelter and the other is a superbly run supportive housing facility for formerly homeless veterans.

Lots of false assumptions from “Just sayin…” I’m just sayin’…

JK
JK
1 year ago

Really? I do leave on the block with a shelter. My 12 year old was walking towards me to 86 street subway and was harassed by those “peacefully “ sitting and standing people. She run to me crying and scared and told me she will never walk alone again. Let’s scare our kids to death, should we? Not a racial conversion. I am scared to pass by them too. Trying not to go anywhere after 7. Do you think this is how we should leave from now on?

HelenD
HelenD
1 year ago

And if there were a massive group of white ‘elite’ UWS males shouting obscenities at women and drinking and getting high on the corners and medians, would you say that was acceptable too?

Jay
Jay
1 year ago
Reply to  HelenD

@HelenD:

“And if there were a massive group of white ‘elite’ UWS males shouting obscenities at women and drinking and getting high on the corners and medians, would you say that was acceptable too?”

You mean like white employed, non-homeless, men at the bar (only a bar) Jake’s Dilemma just up Amsterdam from the Lucerne?

Stop Trashing the Hood
Stop Trashing the Hood
1 year ago
Reply to  HelenD

In New York City, it is illegal to drink alcoholic beverages in public places; this also includes possession of an open container of alcohol. This is true whether or not you are of legal age and applies to drinking alcohol or alcoholic beverages in parks, on streets, or in any public place.

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  HelenD

response to Helen D:

Of course shouting obscenities at women shouldn’t be tolerated. Report it to the Lucerne! But the last time i looked, people are allowed to sit in the median (a park, after all) and drink a beer or a Colt 45. I’ve been known to do it myself.

Does the photo demonstrate criminal or anti-social behavior to you?

JerryV
JerryV
1 year ago

Bruce Bernstein writes, “Does the photo demonstrate criminal or anti-social behavior to you?” Yes it does for those who refuse to wear masks. Our area has had one of the lowest levels of Covid-19 cases because most of the people by far hav been wearing masks to protect themselves and others in the neighborhood. These men are living among and close to many other men in the homeless shelters. If just one becomes a carrier, he will pass it along to others in the shelter and they will soon pass it along the UWS. I consider that anti-social and potentially criminal behavior.

EdNY
EdNY
1 year ago

Homelessness and lawbreaking are and should be two separate things.

CL
CL
1 year ago

Behaviors are the issue. Are they violent or aggressive toward others? Do they impinge upon the rights of others to live in a safe environment? Are there health issues in the time of virus spread, such as spitting yelling without masks, etc. Dangerous behaviors need to be addressed.

robert
robert
1 year ago

Please lets be real, the neighboorhood is not split. 9 out of 10 oppose the conditions that the streets are currently under and opposed to having these facilities being used to give shelter to those that are causing the west side to deteriorate day after day.

Get Them Help
Get Them Help
1 year ago
Reply to  robert

There are many comments here about incidents. Assuming the comments are true, the people should report these incidents to Project Renewal, so that the individuals can **get the help they need.** Clearly, if someone is mentally ill, is using dangerous drugs, is putting themselves and others in danger, **they need help.** That is what Project Renewal does. If they can’t help the individual, they will be transferred to more intensive services. If you do not report the individual to Project Renewal or DHS, and you are simply posting your story here or on Facebook, I call BS on its veracity.

20 years in the neighborhood
20 years in the neighborhood
1 year ago
Reply to  robert

Do you have a source for that statistic or are you just guessing based off the people you know? I am asking sincerely, because everyone I know is mildly concerned about the increase of homeless people but downright appalled by the vitriol expressed by our fellow West Siders. It’s not the former that makes me want to leave the neighborhood, it’s the latter.

(Not really, I’m not going anywhere!)

Melanie
Melanie
1 year ago
Reply to  robert

Thank you, Robert. I’m tired of this issue being presented as some genuine “split” in public discourse. The vast, vast majority of Upper West Siders want these drug addicts out of our neighborhood. A few vocal woke people does not constitute a split. They can invite a homeless man or two to stay in their apartment with them.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago
Reply to  Melanie

Melanie,

“They” are human beings. The neighborhood is split. I live in the neighborhood, and out of all the people I have spoken with about it so far, only one person was upset. I am not in favor of kicking anyone out of our neighborhood. New York City is for everyone. We are not in a gated community. You don’t get to keep people out of the UWS due to their social/financial status.

I am just so disgusted by the attitudes of many of these commenters towards actual human beings. Please learn some compassion.

Priya
Priya
1 year ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Compassion to tolerate public urination, drug use, lewd cat calls, undressing in public, congregating in large groups without masks, leaving trash on the street? No one needs to tolerate this. It goes against basic civility.

Jen
Jen
1 year ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I am a human being too, not just “recovering” addicts. I have lived in the neighborhood since late 90s.
I was attacked by another human being, a woman, with a knife and didn’t even realize what was happening at 87 street years ago. She was an addict from the shelter near where Brice lives and claims it is all dandy. Her group constantly high was hanging out in the area day and night.
She was arrested and taken to psych but the police told me she would be let go next day and would be on the same corner because she didn’t kill me.
These are the rules for these human beings. Apparently we are the lesser ones.
I moved to 70s and am still weary of that area.

davidaron60
davidaron60
1 year ago
Reply to  Melanie

Some of us have. Perhaps now or in the past.

Craig Heard
Craig Heard
1 year ago

These are not homeless women or families at the Lucerne but a shelter dedicated exclusively to 283 men with serious drug issues.

In the case of the Hotel Belleclaire despite assurances from Helen Rosenthal only one registered convicted sex offender has been removed.

There are a number there including child molesters and rapists one block from a school playground.

She previously pledged that all would be gone but has now reversed course.

She doesn’t consider herself a public servant but treats every else as her personal servants.

The only saving grace is that she’s term limited.

Neal H Hurwitz
Neal H Hurwitz
1 year ago
Reply to  Craig Heard

I think Helen Rosenthal is not doing the right job.

G
G
1 year ago

more reasons to thank Gale A. Brewer. she has set her sights on ruining this neighborhood. let’s all go live at her place.

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  G

reply to G:

wow, how uniformed. Do you know anything about Gale? Do you know how many dozens of foster children she and her husband have raised, all while she was a public official or public employee?

Do you know anything about what Gale’s stance is on this issue?

You probably just know she is identified as a liberal, which means you want to vilify her. Just a guess.

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

Literally no one gives a damn about her foster children. We care about the junkies shooting up in our neighborhood by the hundreds.

Victor
Victor
1 year ago

The NYPD refuses to do anything. I was verbally harassed multiple times and was told it was “outside their jurisdiction”.

Danielle Remp
Danielle Remp
1 year ago
Reply to  Victor

It *is* out the jurisdiction of the NYPD.
As reported by newyork cbslocal on July 16 interactions with the homeless was shifted from the police to social services agencies:

“Ninety-two police officers, three detectives and 25 sergeant supervisors will now be assigned new roles.

“Several medical nurses were also part of the unit.

“They have been offered positions with the city Department of Health.”

Not having it
Not having it
1 year ago

I’m seeing a ton of racist and classist behavior from other UWS residents. this is despicable. If you don’t like living with people who are of a different background and income level, please kindly remove yourself to the suburbs. We take care of EVERYONE here in the city. And especially in this neighborhood, which was a very mixed income area for decades before Bloomberg’s reign of terror.

I’ve already told off people asking me to sign this shameful petition and seen one lady call for a “cop” (a traffic officer LMAO) when she got nasty with an african-american man on the sidewalk this week.

Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise and force people to A) check their privilege B) relocate if they can’t stomach the idea of supportive housing.

guruJuice
guruJuice
1 year ago
Reply to  Not having it

This isn’t a matter of class or income level. This is a matter of hard-core junkies shooting up in front of kids. I’m Hispanic, so don’t preach to me about race. It bothers me to have my family wade through the marijuana funk, crackheads, and general hostility of all the many, new homeless men in our neighborhood. Plain and simple!

On the topic of diversity, I agree. But why should normalizing and accepting criminal behavior be a precondition for living in UWS. Maybe older NY’ers are more sanguine, but I don’t want a reset back to the bad old days. The bar has been set higher since then, and I think we should and can expect a better quality of life than the 70’s.

Finally, moving to the suburbs is not really an option for us. Your comment that we should move if we don’t like it, in a way, really shows your own classism. To assume that only whites can be affected and that the relocating is even an option is offensive. Not everyone can just pick up and move to the burbs.

Gustavo
Gustavo
1 year ago
Reply to  Not having it

Probably you don’t have a family and children to care for and be afraid for.

UWSHebrew
UWSHebrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Not having it

Beware of anyone who uses the phrase “check your privelege”. It is Marxist drivel.

UWSHebrew
UWSHebrew
1 year ago
Reply to  UWSHebrew

*privilege

Uws citizen
Uws citizen
1 year ago

Monday there was an orange needle cap and some used matches on the steps to my brownstone. Wednesday there was a cut rubber band and multiple matches and a cigarette butt. At least one of these new neighbors at the hotels has found the steps of a random brownstone to be they best place to shoot up. I hope the needles don’t prick anyone walking around in sandals or putting away their trash and recycling. This isn’t just loitering, it’s open and flagrant drug use. This is CRAZY. There’s a school down the street from here.

David O
David O
1 year ago

This article is one of the reasons I read the westsiderag. Thank you.

CrankyPants
CrankyPants
1 year ago

Email, DM and call Helen Rosenthal. Email, DM and call Cuomo. DeBlasio is useless. Call the cops/911 if necessary (311 is useless) The hotels and Project Renewal will do nothing. We must reclaim the safety of our neighborhood for its tax paying residents and businesses. I am glad it’s getting media coverage. That is the only way the politicians seem to pay any attention. There have to be hotel options further from residential neighborhoods. What about all those places I see out by LaGuardia and JFK?

Westsider
Westsider
1 year ago

The trash on the Broadway medians at 78/79th, on 79th street b/w Broadway and Amsterdam is out of control in these last two weeks. All mixed in with aforementioned needles etc. Who’s going to take care of this? If this many more folks are going to move in, can our officials do something simple like organizing more cleaning crews? Or is that even too much to ask for?

TD Hudson
TD Hudson
1 year ago

Dear Neighbors – the issue is not a simple one and does not have an easy solution. We are in the midst of a deadly pandemic, the worst economy since the depression and we are fighting about housing some of our fellow human beings in an unused building so they don’t get and spread Covid 19. Yes some are working towards a better life and some are drug users. Surely we can support and welcome people like Da Homeless Hero and Mr. Smith. It would be nice if the drug dealers and users were given the option to either seek treatment or be transferred to more appropriate and secure location.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  TD Hudson

I appreciate your words. The bottom line is providing the proper services to treat people so that we can overcome our struggles with addiction or mental health issues. That’s why I’m trying to amplify my voice. I want to see the services provided so we’re treated like humans and not beasts of burden.

UWSer
UWSer
1 year ago
Reply to  TD Hudson

It will help Mr Smith if we remove the drug users from his cohabitation.

Tom
Tom
1 year ago

“NIMBY” is the ultimate thought-terminating cliché. It is pure ad hominem while simultaneously being meaningless. I mean, yeah, I really DON’T want 500 homeless men two blocks away from me, in a residential neighborhood full of children. What in the world would MAKE me want that? Performative wokeness masquerading as “empathy” seems more like self-hatred to this observer. No normal person wants these men here.

doodad
doodad
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom

Unable to tell if this comment is intended as satire…calling out a logical fallacy while ending with another.

TIpping Point
TIpping Point
1 year ago

Project Renewal’s move into the Lucerne with no community outreach is setting back the city’s efforts to provide a much-needed service and build consensus among the community.

If you care about building consensus to deal with MICA (mentally ill chemical abuser) homelessness, the move into Lucerne is a great case of exactly how not to do it.

Where to start? How about Project Renewal hold a public forum with the community and clearly define what it means by “Good Neighbor” policies which it is asking its residents to abide by. We can all do better.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  TIpping Point

I was just saying the same thing to the Head of Security. This is absolutely needed and I surmise that if done, would eliminate a lot of the concerns and proactively address the issues. A face to face, or virtual meeting should be done between all “stakeholders”.

KSS
KSS
1 year ago

DHH thank you for your stance in this. Wishing you the BEST of luck, health and happiness.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  KSS

Thank you very much for your words and all of you show that have commented have shown that there are so many good people in this community. I intend to reflect that energy as well. Thanks again.

CAG
CAG
1 year ago

I work in a homeless shelter and I meet so many wonderful men like you who are trying to improve their situation. Unfortunately, as you know, there are others who respect no one and only care about their next high. DHS is a joke-they talk about how much they care about homeless people but then treat them like crap. DHS, and their worthless security, ignores the rampant drug use and general criminal behavior in the shelters. I wish that there was a better option for guys like you and Mr. Smith. You deserve better and I am sorry that what the neighborhood, myself included, sees are the guys passed out, nodding, or harassing people. I walked through Central Park by 81st & CPW today and there was a group of five homeless guys smoking and drinking in the park-this is not ok. I just wish that there was some way to improve the situation for guys like you. I often tell neighbors that I encounter so many great guys in my job at the shelter, but then you add the drugs and alcohol and it all falls apart.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  CAG

Thanks for your words and you are so right. The fact that they have placed us all on one shelter due to our substance use disorder as it is now called, but do not provide treatment services to all is a travesty and to me, the fault lies with DHS and I do not feel they have real concern for us. It appears to be a way to hustle more money out of the state and government to combat problems this city perpetuates due to their ineffective policies.

Tipping Point
Tipping Point
1 year ago

Da Homeless Hero: you are a true hero! I hope at some point we have a chance to meet. Please know that the UWS supports you.

It pains me to see Project Renewal hiding behind DHS’s clandestine moves, secret contracts and no public outreach. What is DHS and Project Renewal concealing from the public? They are doing a disservice to the homeless community by hiding and end up making a difficult situation worse.

I sincerely wish you the best and hope that your voice is heard.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Tipping Point

Thanks for your words and by all means I’m willing to meet with anyone from the community. I believe that this could be the thing that forces some sort of change for the better but it will not be pleasurable, especially to those who have financially benefitted from this “problem” of homelessness. Many of us are definitely in need of help beyond a place to stay. We have varied issues that need to be addressed and so I would hope that despite what is seen by many of us, we look at the institutions that are given a lot of money to service us, as the true culprits in this issue. I believe are not being serviced in a manner that is conducive to the growth and development of human beings.

Project Renewal is indeed a great organization and of the many that I have seen or experienced, it is one that attempts to cover all grounds. Yet, there are issues with the way DHS restricts organizations so that it limits their ability to do things that might be more beneficial to those they intend to serve.

Many are responsible for providing inadequate services but we do have to look at the Mayor, and the head of DHS and our City Council. I encourage people to contact our city’s Public Advocate. Make him aware of what’s going on and have him use his position to cause accountability where accountability should be.

Contact JUMAANE D. WILLIAMS
New York City Public Advocate
reception@advocate.nyc.gov
(212)669-7200
Fax: (212)669-4701

NY Pedestrian
NY Pedestrian
1 year ago

DHH, You sound like an amazing person and it’s sad that a few bad seeds have given the residents at the Lucerne. You sound like you have direction, conviction, responsibility, and are strong and focused. Hope that you can find work with Project Renewal as they probably need someone like you to strenghten their organization. And hope that you find the support you need to continue on the right track 🙂

tailfins
tailfins
1 year ago

I think the streets are terrible. Unstable people are wandering around. People are sleeping on sidewalks and setting up camp. It needs to be fixed.

But, let’s also realize that the people who stole entire life savings in the financial crisis are also living in our neighborhood. They didn’t go to jail. There’s been no outcry. No one complains that their kids are in school with ours. Why not? I don’t really want my kids next to those morally bankrupt people. I don’t want those values coming into my home. It’s every bit as dangerous. But, one group gets locked up and the other group goes on without a peep.

priy A
priy A
1 year ago
Reply to  tailfins

Are you really comparing the two? Are these criminals you speak of urinating on the street, menacing residents as they walk by,. throwing trash on the street? Seriously?

GetReal
GetReal
1 year ago
Reply to  tailfins

Sure, that banker is just as likely to slice you open as you reload your metrocard…
The banker presents the same danger… GMAFB

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago
Reply to  tailfins

Well said.

Ethan
Ethan
1 year ago
Reply to  tailfins

Indeed, the real criminals are the people in power and the wealthy. And these are the people who complain the loudest about the homeless and downtrodden. “You got gangsters in power and lawbreakers making rules. When you gonna wake up?”

Jean Luke
Jean Luke
1 year ago

I walked by the Lucerne this afternoon and didn’t notice any problems. I feel bad though for Nice Matin having to deal with the scaffolding. Thats such a nice looking restaurant.

I remember the good old days in Jan. and Feb. when people would be mainly complaining about the height of 200 Amsterdam Ave.

Now people are getting punched at restaurants while dining out, stabbed at the 72nd Subway and dealing with large influx of homeless in the neighborhood.

200 Amsterdam by the way looks beautiful and the Facade, Setbacks and Crown all excellent architecture. I hope they don’t have to remove any floors as it will lose its grandeur and its an impressive building in the neighborhood.

Christine E
Christine E
1 year ago

Crime stats do not show an increase in crime because so much has been decriminalized. Like public urination, harrassment, and public drug use.

And clearly, if the police are “occasionally waiting for ambulances for overdoses,” these men are still using and any “treatment” is not working. Hotels near residences and schools are NOT an appropriate location for active drug addicts who are not monitored or receiving treatment. It is better to house them in empty airport hotels where they can be isolated and detoxify and rehab, while still satisfying the law to house them within the 5 boros. If they complete the treatment and pass regular drug tests they can “earn” the right to housing in a more populated neighborhood.

Housing them on UWS in the present conditions is not helping anyone except local dealers.

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Christine E

I totally support Bruce in all that he has said. If I could add balance, I would say that Project Renewal is great at what it does, however, I think it has a lot of catching up to do. There’s a disconnect between, the community, residents in the hotel and the upper level people at Project Renewal. I’m speaking on these issues and sharing your concerns to get them to move faster and in a more proactive way. They do need to up their services for us. We need more and I would want you all to push that issue.

Bruce E. Bernstein
Bruce E. Bernstein
1 year ago
Reply to  Christine E

reply to Christine:

they ARE monitored and receiving treatment. That is what Project Renewal (PR) does. this is a treatment facility.

have you looked into PR’s effectiveness and track record? those seem like relevant pieces of information.

Weldy
Weldy
1 year ago

What does the monitoring entail and what is PR’s success rate Bruce? Enlighten us!

Dave S
Dave S
1 year ago

I am a compassionate person but this needs to be put in perspective. A person earning 100k a year would not be able to afford the $63,875 annual rent being paid for these hotel rooms (before services).

A large percentage of the UWS is not “rich,” rather upper middle class folks who bought apartments many years ago (which is their primary asset). It is not being classist to resent having to cross back and forth across the street to avoid being accosted by belligerent people camped out on the sidewalk a few blocks away from their hotel rooms.

Additionally, if these individuals congregate without masks it defeats the alleged purpose of this entire exercise.

CG
CG
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave S

It’s worth noting that the hotel was receiving no income because of the pandemic, which is why it offered to participate in this program.

In addition to providing for social distancing for the homeless, this program has provided income to our hotel industry, which has been decimated by the pandemic.

William Dunn
William Dunn
1 year ago
Reply to  CG

My God? What planet are you on? Look at the photo accompanying this story. A large crowd of tightly packed men in the middle of 79th Street and Broadway not wearing any face masks. Apparently, you’re not concerned about this at all. The safety and health of neighborhood residents and children are equally as important.

Nervous UWS-er
Nervous UWS-er
1 year ago

I typed this story up shortly after the incident happened very late Monday night. Here it is…

A little after 1:30am I ran over to the Duane Reade that is directly across the street from the Lucern Hotel. When I got inside a very angry man was arguing with the cashier about something. After I got my items & went to the cashier, he had already left. She told me he was staying at the Lucern (to her knowledge) and that he wanted to buy beer, didn’t have enough money & was arguing with her to let him have it anyway. I asked if they were having any problems from the Lucern & she told me all day, every day. She said they come in drunk, high, strung out & how the previous night one had an overdose in the back of the store & the police had to come as well as paramedics & be taken away. So as I go to leave I’m standing on the corner (in front of the newsstand) waiting to cross the street. While waiting I see the man who was arguing with the cashier across & on the other side, in front of where the recently closed deli is. He is now shirtless, without a mask & comes running across towards me very fast & very aggressive as cars were coming down Amsterdam. He came right up to me & started screaming into my face that he wanted to talk to me. I was kind of frozen, very scared & told him I had to get home. He backed off a bit, then got right into my face again & continued screaming & cursing at me, now angry for not being willing to talk to him. I could feel his spit hit my forehead from his screaming. When the walk sign came I started to quickly walk away & as I did he was still screaming & calling me terrible names that all started with the word f**k. This was not an older man but someone in their late 20’s, in very muscular shape, a large build & tall. As I cross there I turned around & he was staring at me from across the street, still cursing at me. He then crossed the street to the Lucern & I saw him walk up the stairs & go in. Shortly after I got home I called the hotel & spoke to the manager. He was very nice but explained that they had nothing to do with them, that it was Project Renewal & told me I could speak to someone. I did, told the story & said the man ran into the Lucern & the time. As I started to describe him he told me he knew exactly who I was referring to. He said that he was not one of theirs, but this person was continually coming into the hotel trying to stay with someone else that he knows there or get his own room. He explained that he is from another shelter in Brooklyn, but knows that he’s been hanging out up here trying to find a way in.

I have lived in this neighborhood 18 years now. I have been out late & never once did I ever have an encounter where I actually feared for my life. To have a man across the street see you, run across with cars coming right at him & not even flinch, no shirt, no mask & then get right into your face & scream at you on the top of their lungs is exceptionally frightening. I truly felt I was going to be harmed. The night before this another man was laying backwards in a planter on my block screaming & cursing until the police and then an ambulance came to take him away. The neighborhood is getting very scary & I’m not sure what can be done to fix this situation.

uwsgal
uwsgal
1 year ago
Reply to  Nervous UWS-er

Here is a proactive suggestion. We can help the police, as well as the hotels identify the miscreants. if the hotel personnel know who the person is, and say he is not properly in the hotel, they can have him arrested as a trespasser. They may not want to take that action, but they can.
Furthermore, they should give a copy of his photo and id, and communicate with the 20 pct. If he acted so irrationally and made you nervous, he has done such actions before, and will continue to do so, and at least the Police will be able to i.d. him, and be able to build a case against him.
It is disheartening that the sucker puncher was let go because the outdoor dining victim declined to press charges–but when he harms other people, at least the police will be able to identify him.

Yep
Yep
1 year ago
Reply to  Nervous UWS-er

I’m sorry that happened to you.

Bruce, any thoughts on this one?

Da Homeless Hero
Da Homeless Hero
1 year ago
Reply to  Nervous UWS-er

I totally encourage you to bring this situation to the Head of Security for Project Renewal… It’s possible that some may have mental illness or whatever… Regardless, this behavior is not acceptable… Please, refer this incident to Project Renewal’s Head of Security so they can identify who the person is and transfer him to a place where they can be given the appropiate services.