Photos: ‘Stars of Hope’ Travel from a Homeless Hotel to Gracie Mansion

Photographs by Yvonne Vávra.

By Yvonne Vávra

Upper West Siders gathered on Sunday at 2pm in Riverside Park at 75th Street to paint “Stars of Hope” to promote and reclaim hope, love, and empathy, and raise awareness and support for all New Yorkers without stable housing, organizers said.

The event was planned by the group Upper West Side Open Hearts, an initiative committed to supporting the residents in temporary hotel shelters at The Lucerne Hotel, and the Belleclaire, Belnord, and The Park West.

UWS Open Hearts criticized Mayor de Blasio’s recent decision to relocate residents from their current hotel shelters on the Upper West Side to other shelters in the city, starting with The Lucerne.

For many of the men, this would be the fourth time since June that they would be removed from one neighborhood and transferred to another in the middle of a global pandemic, UWS Open Hearts says. As it stands, the move will also dislodge a number of disabled families from another shelter in Brooklyn to accommodate the men from The Lucerne.

The first step was painting the stars. Neighbors donated the supplies.

Then they brought them to The Lucerne, and hung them.

Last was a walk to Gracie Mansion from The Lucerne to deliver the message in person.

Dancer/actress/filmmaker and author of an extremely popular essay on WSR, Marianne Hettinger took the following video of a speech made by a resident of The Lucerne, who calls himself Da Homeless Hero.

NEWS | 28 comments | permalink
    1. Bob Lamm says:

      Wonderful. These people make me proud to be a longtime resident of the Upper West Side.

    2. Sarah says:

      Thank you.

    3. S says:

      How many “stars of Hope” members have paid a lot of money purchasing a home only to have the value decline due to the placement of way too many homeless in this one neighborhood. That concern is only eclipsed by the safety factor. It’s a shame the city can be bullied by the threat of a law suit by an organization that does not consider the many negative effects of the thoughtless non consideration of a Neighborhood

      • S says:

        Why should a real thought have to be modified? All sides of a problem be heard and considered

      • Claire says:

        The lives of the less fortunate are more important than property values.

      • R says:

        You seem to forget that the city was bullied into moving them out of our neighborhood in the first place by people with thoughts like yours. Sounds pretty hypocritical to me for you to judge those who don’t agree with this selfish, inhumane way of thinking.
        Why is the value of anyone’s property more important than the safety and basic (BASIC!!!) comfort of these people with no homes? If people weren’t so greedy there wouldn’t BE any homeless people in the first place; there’s more housing available than there are those without homes. The issue is cost.

      • Jerry says:

        I could not disagree more with both the spirit and intent of your comment. Paying a lot of money for a home doesn’t entitle you to extra say or a veto over who else lives in the neighborhood; that’s an ugly and morally repugnant idea. Further, property values fluctuate; in Manhattan they rise more than fall, but you get no guarantee! RE: safety factor, despite hysteria/hyperbole, no evidence shows we’ve been harmed by men at the Lucerne. Finally, the irony of your last point is top-drawer: the City announced moving the men out of the Lucerne under threat of a lawsuit; halting the move because of the threat of a different lawsuit is poetic justice.

      • UWSider707 says:

        The answer I’d say is none.

    4. CrankyPants says:

      How marvelous…maybe DeBlasio can move all the displaced people right into Gracie Mansion.

    5. Dom says:

      The inhabitants of the Lucerene had the chance to live in the UWS peacefully and couldn’t do it. Between the open drug use, harassment, violence and passed-out bodies in the street, bussing them out is the most humane solution. Besides, it was always a temporary situation anyway. Accept reality and move on.

      • UWSider Since 1974 says:

        Dom,
        We’ve had a different experience. Not once did I smile and say hello to an apparent resident of Lucerne without that person smiling and saying hello back.

        • lynn says:

          What does your saying hello to them have to do with their drug use and the behavior that comes along with it? They say hello to every female in the neighborhood on a regular basis, only with a few expletives included. I guess you missed out on that experience.

    6. Gina says:

      These protestors should take in a homeless person each—maybe that will solve the problem? This fake level of “wokeness” is reprehensible. The solution was temporary and they’re being moved to facilities that can HELP them. Putting them in a five-star hotel is was never the answer—let them go.

      • Jerry says:

        Among the many, many misconceptions and untruths going around is that the Lucerne is a five-star hotel! Friends from out of town stayed there a few years back. The Lucerne is not a five-star hotel–not even close! More importantly, claiming that anyone who does not support the demonization and eviction of these men is exhibiting a fake level of “wokeness” is what is reprehensible…as is your notion that the only valid means of supporting housing for the homeless is to personally house a homeless person oneself! I think that is silly and absurd.

      • UWS mom says:

        That is really the most disgusting thing to say. I have lived on the UWS for the better part of 25 years. I attended the stars of hope event with my daughter. I did not go so as to appear “woke.” I went because I believe that the Lucerne residents should be able to stay. This idea that is thrown around by so many people who disagree, that we should just take them into our own homes is ridiculous. There are services at the Lucerne for them. All of the Project Renewal staff has come uptown and the services are offered in the hotel. I obviously do not have that in my home. And those are your options– in the homes of people who believe they should be given a safe place to live OR anywhere that isn’t your neighborhood? That is preposterous. The temporary part of their move was until they can return to a shelter with congregate housing when they are safe from Covid. That clearly is not yet.

    7. Anonymous says:

      When I was working for Mayor Giuliani in 1994/1996 we my team was instructed by the mayors office to get the homeless off the streets and ship the homeless out of New York one-way ticket on Greyhound buses to New Orleans or somewhere in the Midwest like Chicago or Washington DC really any place we choose but far enough away from New York to get rid of them.
      Other cities did the same and ship them to New York that’s how we learn to do this type of program.
      So why can’t we bring programs back I this again. It’s cheaper than keeping them in our high end hotels.

      • Jerry says:

        Now there’s an idea! Let’s go back to the days of inhumane and unconstitutional polices that mistreat human beings and get overturned by courts! Since you worked in the Giuliani administration, are you aware of just how many lawsuits the Giuliani administration lost and how much money was paid in damages and fines for violations of the U.S. and N.Y.S. Constitutions?

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        reply to Anonymous:

        that about sums up the reprehensible, racist, classist Giuliani administration.

    8. j says:

      Thank you UWS Open Hearts for all your work. We appreciate you.

    9. Buddy Revell says:

      I wonder what the percentage of people who support the massive concentration of homeless housing as well as city supportive housing are living in rent stabilized apartments? As a homeowner who struggled and saved for years, it is disheartening to see property values go down and taxes go up. I guess this white yuppie is getting what I deserve….

      • Sarah says:

        Owning property does not make you neighborhood aristocracy, with greater rights and privileges than your fellow-residents. What a repugnant, anti-democratic thought.

        • Buddy Revell says:

          Nobody said my rights were greater. They just need to be considered. And what right do people who are shipped into the neighborhood have to destroy it?

          • Sarah says:

            You clearly implied that your opinions were more worthy of consideration than those of the rent-stabilized tenants you referenced. And whether or not a neighborhood is “destroyed” has nothing to do with whether you personally get your desired return of investment on your property (which the Lucerne residents have nothing to do with, but EVEN IF). The community doesn’t owe it to you to prop up your property values at the expense of its most vulnerable members.

    10. Bravo says:

      Thank you Open Hearts for showing that there is acceptance on the UWS. For those worried about property values, we are on the middle of a recession, citywide budget cuts and a pandemic. This short term solution for the homeless to live on the UWS is temporary. The men of the Lucerne are not to blame for the recession, for budget cuts or for the pandemic. Get over yourselves. And yes I have spoken with residents and with members of Open Hearts and they are property owners and business owners. They are not the other you would so like to paint them as. They are your neighbors but they have compassion to look beyond their quarterly spreadsheets. Why don’t you see how you can help actual people instead of trying to ship their problems out of your sight.

    11. Concerned Native UWSer says:

      The video of da homeless hero by Marianne Hettinget, is very touching. The resident of the Lucerne is so level headed, fair minded, and positive.
      When there is another town hall/ community board meeting, he could contribute a lot on the homeless issues and solutions.
      The Mayor and his administration make knee jerk moves, then belatedly try to seek solutions re: services, etc., which disrupts both the community and hotel/shelter residents
      There’s so many orgs and brilliant people who know about mental illness, addiction, disabilities. Why aren’t they being brought into the conversation to examine the system for real solutions?
      There’s another video of a man, Salvador Salomon- formerly homeless speaking near Gracie Mansion, sharing thoughts from both perspectives, as homeless and renter, who has more sense than many elected officials. You can find on Facebook.