Lucerne Residents Are Supposed to Move Downtown, But Residents There Are Starting to Push Back Too

The homeless men living at The Lucerne Hotel on 79th Street are expected to be moved to a Radisson near Wall Street by October 5. For many of them, it will be their third move since the start of the pandemic, after they were pushed out of hotels in midtown and then on the Upper West Side following opposition from some in the community.

The reception downtown looks like it could be icy too. The Daily News spoke to people who lead community groups nearby the Radisson, which is on William Street near Pine Street, and some are calling on the city to delay the move.

In a statement, Patrick Kennell, president of the Financial District Neighborhood Association, said there are “too many unanswered questions for a move this monumental to happen so quickly.”

Kennell said the group is demanding that Mayor de Blasio suspend the Oct. 5 move date and release the complete written plan for the proposed new shelter.

Others in the area are also wary, with a post on the Downtown NYCers for Safe Streets website, saying “this will be permanent and that “Our neighborhood already has over ten hotels being utilized as shelters, and now with the Radisson turning into a permanent location, we need to come up with solutions.”

Upper West Siders in a group called the UWS Open Hearts Initiative, meanwhile, are calling on the city to cancel the move, saying Mayor de Blasio caved to a group of wealthy people at the expense of the most vulnerable. Politicians including Borough President Gale Brewer have also called for the men to stay at The Lucerne. Brewer wrote in a statement:

“The abrupt relocation, to occur in the midst of a pandemic and religious observations, was announced by Mayor de Blasio’s administration after a local nonprofit already raised private money to provide employment and recreational activities to the men six days a week, a tremendous show of responsiveness to community concerns. Such opportunities for comprehensive services and recreational space are rare and need to be taken advantage of. Moreover, Project Renewal has said that the support of the UWS Open Hearts Initiative for Lucerne clients should serve as a model for community shelter relationships. Moving the clients will deprive them of this support, and the stability they deserve and need for their continued recovery.”

NEWS | 37 comments | permalink
    1. Wendy Wu says:

      Gale Brewer, perhaps consider the elderly, disabled tenants who lived peacefully at the Lucerne for decades until 283 homeless, mentally ill, chemically-addicted men were moved in, leaving this vulnerable population on their own amid drug use/dealing, crime, intimidation and zero oversight from Project Renewal. No longer can they get food deliveries, use the elevator, or feel safe in their own homes. Consider them!

      • Robert O Johnson says:

        Westside Rag refused to publish my comment regarding the false statements made by the man in the video in this post. Why? The truth is none of what he said is true. Why are you censoring posts that point this out?

    2. Adam says:

      This may not sound that nice & I feel bad as I do not mean it that way, but they need to get these people out of the Lucern & into this other shelter ASAP. It is not fair to them, to the neighborhood & everyone that this is causing so much stress for. For the past few weeks they were about to move, then it was put on hold, not it’s on again, now people want it stopped. This is not fair to them & preventing these people from starting to get their lives back together, which you can’t do when the decision about where you’re going to live changes every other day. It is also not fair to the residents of the neighborhood who’s lives have been in distress all these months. The sooner they are out of the Lucern the sooner all our lives will be a lot easier.

    3. LK says:

      Politicians are trying to outdo themselves claiming their progressive credentials at the expense of us – constituents. Don’t be fooled – they are not trying to help any group of people ( if they had – homeless recovering addicts would not be placed in the hotel without treatment options and without anything to keep them busy all day ). These politicians are there to score points at our expense. Look for new people now – before it’s too late!
      P.S. Good for people downtown – let’s see what their city council person does for them!

    4. Leon says:

      This is too complicated for deBlasio’s feeble brain, but the next mayor needs to look at bigger issues. Why are these men in the shelter system so long? The economy stinks now, but this didn’t just start.

      Why isn’t there more permanent housing? Have people “graduate” out of NYCHA to free up space – do periodic audits of residents. Only provide services to New Yorkers who become homeless, not homeless people from other places who flock here. And separate the small number of chronically addicted from those who are underemployed and/or truly trying to find work.

      • ben says:

        Al good ideas, except the city, regardless of who happens to be the mayor, lacks the resolve or the money or the man power to make any of them work. In truth, nobody that’s in power cares enough about the situation because it doesn’t affect his/her bottomline.

        • Leon says:

          Agreed in part. I don’t think there is anyone who will get this done. But if implemented, my plans will actually save money. It is cheaper to have them in permanent housing. Freeing up space in NYCHA also saves money. Getting non-New Yorkers out of the system saves a ton of money.

          And part of my idea about separating the chronically addicted out would involve dedicating facilities in preferred locations to those who would benefit from these locations since they are closer to their existing/prospective jobs. The chronically addicted can be sent to cheaper, more remote locations where they can focus on receiving services and not have access to drugs.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        reply to Leon:

        the plan to kick people out of NYCHA is actually a horrible idea. NYCHA already has maximum income requirements. they are not rock bottom, but they should not be, as NYCHA should not simply be for the very poor. And i believe a certain % of NYCHA housing is set aside for homeless families already.

        NYCHA is permanent low and moderate income housing. Your idea would disrupt stability in NYCHA projects.

        Here’s a simple idea: create MORE permanent supportive housing. And build MORE permanent affordable housing, instead of all these luxury condos, which is a mis-allocation of resources.

        • Peter says:

          Mis-allocation by whom? Are you a real estate developer? What’s the ROI on all the amazing supportive housing that you’re allocating to?

          Why aren’t the DHS and the City efficiently allocating all their billions (funded by us) to build more permanent supportive housing, instead of wasting it on shuttling people back and forth around the area for decades? Do you want to provide that oversight and enforcement?

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            reply to Peter:

            The failure to build more affordable housing for the poor and working classes, and the emphasis in places like NYC on upper-income housing, is a mis-allocation of capital by society. It is what economists call a “market failure”, in fact a classic case of such. In a market failure, we cannot rely on “ROI” to provide the human need.

            For many decades now, the private sector has failed in providing affordable housing. To the extent it is built in NYC, it is usually done through govt involvement. I refer to NYCHA housing; the Mitchell Lama program; other forms of affordable coops that used subsidies; there are many more examples.

        • Leon says:

          I did not know that NYCHA had max income requirements – thank you for the information. This is what I was suggesting. If these exist and are being adequately enforced, then I withdraw my suggestion. I was just trying to think of some creative solutions that are not costly and that could be implemented quickly. Creating new housing is expensive and takes time (which isn’t to say it shouldn’t be done).

          All forms of housing subsidies should be for those who truly need them, with as few loopholes as possible.

        • Otis says:

          I’ve been reading WSR for a couple of years now but I only started to post.

          Aren’t you that guy who got his apartment for next to nothing thru legal shenanigans?

          Maybe the city should crack down on this type of abuse to make apartments more affordable.

    5. anonymous says:

      They were white vans in front of the Lucerne Hotel taking people downtown today.
      And estimated 40 people were taken today and 43 people were taken last week Which was needed to bring it down to a capacity of 200 by New York State law.
      The remainder will be removed in the next few days and next week.

    6. Marti Cassidy says:

      Real estate surveys indicate that about 20% of hotels will be abandoned when covid normalizes. This is an opportune time to repurpose these investments for evolving social needs. A caring community would deploy them as resource for housing certain levels of prisoners released as planned decarceration begins.

      These properties are spread through the city and would otherwise remain vacant, and they are well sized for small occupancy units.

      • Astrid says:

        Tourists will never stop coming to NYC. COVID-19 will eventually be dealt with. The hotels will always be in demand.

    7. js says:

      Please note:
      The Radisson at 52 William already was being used to house some homeless adults.
      What is changing is that it appears that now the entire Radisson site is being converted for shelter use.

    8. Elizabeth Shackelford says:

      Good for Gail Brewer🤩I consider myself a conservative, a tiny red dot in a sea of blue- However, I believe we have to help people in need. I live 20 blocks north. Therefore, I did not see any of the activity causing offense. Nevertheless less, the reds and the blues both care for the poor. We just disagree on how to do it. That is the American way.

      • Susan says:

        ” I live 20 blocks north. Therefore, I did not see any of the activity causing offense.”

        Your opinion is therefore irrelevant.

      • Robert O Johnson says:

        That is because what they are saying is not true. I am not sure if this post will get published because Westsiderag has not been posting any of my comments lately that are contrary to the vile posts made by people about these homeless men.

    9. ben says:

      Not terribly surprising that there’s pushback. There will always be pushback wherever and whenever you try to move people into a new homeless shelter. At least those downtown gets a chance to be mad about it before things happen. Same could not be said about the uws.
      The squeaky wheel gets the grease so it’s a matter of who complains the loudest and most.

    10. Merv Kaufman says:

      I think the homeless should be welcome anywhere it’s possible to billet them, as long as there are social workers on the scene to provide some of the special and specific services these people may require.

    11. Otis says:

      Moving this shelter to the Wall Street area can’t be good for NYC’s status as the financial capitol of the world.

    12. John says:

      If the city would drug test every shelter resident weekly I wold not mind them in the neighborhood. If a drug test is failed they lose their free hotel room and are on their own. If you cant help yourself do not expect others to help you…..

      • Leon says:

        I do not think that one should just give up on people. However, they should be in separate facilities from those who are not on drugs and are truly using shelters as a brief place to stay while they try to get back on their feet. Particularly those who have gotten through their addictions and do not need to be tempted.

        Send the drug users to remote locations and have resources there to help them. These locations can be outside the boundaries of NYC. Perhaps NY State can help manage and pay for this?

    13. Newcavendish says:

      More nonsense. The City didn’t cave in to “wealthy people”, it recognized, one hopes, that it had done a terrible job of preparing and managing the Lucerne situation (and the other homeless hotels on the UWS) and had the good sense to act accordingly. NIMBY is an unfortunate but perfectly understandable reaction to an ill-managed situation involving disruption of minimal norms of conduct in a place such as the UWS. Let’s not waste any more public money debating this.

    14. David says:

      Ambulance in front of Lucerne tonight. It’s now once a week. Another person has been taking away. The protesters and Helen Rosenthal are 100% responsible for each OD and death at the Lucerne. The men need 24/7 care in a shelter that can provide on site resources like medical and psycho therapy. Temporary hotels are not meant for long term care period. Protesting and politics are a deadly combination.

    15. Pepper says:

      Did anyone see this report on abc7 ny on The Lucerne? I didn’t realize they had permanent tenants living there with the homeless.

    16. Ellen Shell says:

      Why do reporters repeatedly overlook the reasons why these men get moved? Are they really victims? Maybe there should be more rules and structure imposed on the clients so that they can function in ways that add to the neighborhood. Maybe apply laws? Who wants drugs, illicit behaviors, and crime brought to their neighborhoods? However it gets classified in the stats. Project Renewal should up their game and stop making excuses. Along with the politicians. Safety for all residents is a human right. Tax payers have rights.

    17. Ellen Shell says:

      And, even on Wall Street, drug test are part of the employment application. Stop allowing treatment to be optional. Regular drug use should disqualify someone from free public housing. Get clean or go someplace else. Why do drug addicts who actively use deserve free public housing?

    18. Micarl Hill says:

      After leaving NY for 6 weeks to tend to business on the west coast, my wife shared with the many uncomfortable stories about the homeless population about our neighborhood.She was incredibly uncomfortable and felt unsafe. Upon my return I saw it for myself and was taken aback. Since then, 3 families in our building have decided to move as each has children and they were uncomfortable with the “new” neighborhood vibe. They actually decided to simply move out of New York all together.

    19. Concerned Small Business Owner says:

      It’s obvious the DHS is paying us back for moving the Lucerne “clients”. I want to know how ANOTHER LONG-TERM shelter is now able to go into the UWS if it’s supposed to go by “FAIR SHARE”? Can they really add more just for spite? Seems like it.

      How can they continue to abuse the UWS when we have way more shelters and supportive housing than other neighborhoods? Does anyone have any numbers to show differently? Am I missing something?

    20. Jerry Pirece says:

      They will be parking a huge RV outside the front of 52 William Street. The RV will be for Triage for the 240 men as their health needs it. The street is very narrow and currently horns and car pickups and delivery’s can hardly move in this small street designed for 1 car. Emergency vehicles such as Ambulance and firetrucks will not be able to pass which creates difficulty and medical access to help other FIDI residents.