The city had expected to finish moving homeless men out of The Lucerne Hotel on 79th Street by this weekend, but the timeline has now been interrupted.
The Department of Homeless Services has paused transferring the men after reports in the Daily News, The City and elsewhere showed that the Lucerne transfer and another shelter transfer in Queens were causing a chain reaction of human misery throughout the system, with children and people with disabilities suddenly having to pack their bags.
“As the Mayor said this morning, at this time, while Commissioner Banks and Corp Counsel Johnson are reviewing the situation, we are not moving any clients from these locations as part of this initiative (moves in the normal course, such as to permanent housing, for example, may proceed),” a DHS spokesman said in a statement.
The story of The Lucerne has played out over about six fraught weeks, with community groups battling over the placement of the shelter. A nonprofit called the West Side Community Organization raised more than $100,000 and hired lawyer Randy Mastro to fight the placement of the shelter. After saying the shelter would only be moved when it was safe for the men to go back to dorm-style rooms, Mayor de Blasio suddenly decided last week to move it out of the Upper West Side. The Legal Aid Society, however, has challenged that decision.
The society says it is pleased with the city’s pause.
“We continue to negotiate on next steps and we hope the City will arrive at a solution that ensures that every New Yorker in shelter can be safe and healthy and receives the accommodations that they are entitled to as prescribed by law,” said Judith Goldiner, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, in a statement.
The West Side Community Organization, however, appears convinced that the move-out will go forward as planned.
“We understand and expect that the City will honor its commitment to move folks out of the Lucerne and into state-accredited shelters with proper services on-site by the end of this month,” Mastro said in a statement. “As the Mayor has explained, SRO hotels should only be temporary housing, and what’s happening on the Upper West Side is ‘not acceptable,’ so this move will be a win-win for this neighborhood and this vulnerable population.”