Updated: ‘Homeless Hotels’ Booked by City for Another Six Months; ‘Shelters Not Yet Safe’; ‘Lucerne Men Will Move’

Hotel Belleclaire, one of four UWS hotels housing people without homes.

By Carol Tannenhauser

The contract between the City and the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC), which has resulted in 63 hotels providing rooms to 10,000 single homeless people, runs out on October 12th. But it will be extended for six months, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) told WSR on Wednesday morning.

The reason for the extension is that the city in consultation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has deemed it is not yet safe to send these individuals back to congregate shelters. Those shelters have dormitory-style sleeping and eating arrangements, and social distancing is impossible, DHS says. They sent the following statement:

Our COVID Hotels contract expires next week. As a result, we will need to extend our contract with HANYC to ensure we are able to provide this vital, life-saving protection and resource to our clients as we work with DOHMH on when and how it will be safe to phase out the COVID hotels and return to congregate shelters for single adults

While precise terms of the contract extension are still being finalized, the extension will be for six months – AND we can cancel it whenever we are ready too, such as if/when we are able to end the use of specific commercial hotel relocation sites or end the use of commercial hotel temporary relocation sites writ large.

As we’ve said, our actions will be guided by the science and data in determining when it is safe to return to congregate shelters, including closely monitoring health indicators with health experts at the New York City Health Department and evaluating how to most effectively prioritize temporary relocation commercial hotels for phaseout/moveout at the point where Health experts say it is safe to do so. Again: we intend to follow the science and the data every step of the way – and that includes: if we are able to relocate individuals out of commercial hotel settings to alternative safe settings sooner, we may do so.

“The president and CEO of the Hotel Association, Vijay Dandapani, also said he ‘fully expects’ the contract will be extended,” Gothamist reported. “He noted the arrangement benefits his members as well as people experiencing homelessness, since hotels have otherwise remained largely empty during the pandemic. ‘It’s a really good agreement for the city and obviously for the hotel owners because there’s zero business, or close to zero business in terms of tourism or business travel,’” he said.

There are four hotels on the Upper West Side currently housing individuals without homes: Hotel Belleclaire, on West 77th and Broadway, The Lucerne, on West 79th and Amsterdam, The Belnord Hotel, on West 87th between Amsterdam and Broadway, and The Park West Hotel, on Central Park West, between 106th and 107th Streets.

As of now, it is uncertain whether the men of The Lucerne will be heading downtown to a Radisson Hotel, which is being converted to a shelter in the Financial District.

Clarification: According to Isaac McGinn, DHS spokesperson, “It is certain that the men (of The Lucerne) will move downtown….This planned move will take place in October – we are looking to mid-October for the move, as we ensure the Wall Street area location is ready for occupancy and fully prepared to receive these clients.” More details to follow.

NEWS | 35 comments | permalink
    1. Edwn says:

      Yeah, right. Stand outside any of those hotels at 9 pm if you want to see social distancing! Love to see hotel owners name and NYC gov connections. And count the masks protecting us older residents! And their respect of neighborhood, look at 7oth St am, poop, urine, drugs.

      • UpperWest says:

        Well, locally, it is Sam Domb, Lucerne and the Shimmie Horn, Belleclaire, at least. Shimmie (and his dad before him) has a long history of shelters and shelter conversions, e.g. the Hotel Chandler, now the Harmonia shelter. Both have made made political donations in the past, would indeed be interesting to see to whom of late. Of course we’ll never know if they promised future donations, which is perhaps the most interesting bit.
        That kind of information should simply be clearly and obviously disclosed as a matter of integrity/transparency.

      • Act Now says:

        What about the people who lost their jobs, who are homeschooling their children, who can’t see their elderly parents and grandparents, who have to cancel weddings and postpone funerals, who are worried about health insurance and paying rent ?? And who are seeing their neighborhood get destroyed and are afraid to go out ?? can somebody please explain where and when help for these people is coming from ??

    2. s says:

      It is my understanding that the Radisson is bigger, has more open space and will have on site services for the men who are currently at the Lucerne. Now would be the best time to move them. As for the UWS Open Hearts group, don’t believe for a minute that they care about these people. Most of them do not live near the hotels in question and many are not even living in Manhattan.

    3. Adam says:

      OH NO! I knew this would happen. Sadly, it looks like we just need to accept that these people living in there currently are here to stay. Thus, we can expect the streets to remain unsafe for us here on the UWS.

    4. pparsh says:

      We are broke as a city and these ridiculous bills it costs to house them is a priority? Tax paying hard working New Yorkers can’t pay rent, can’t attend work because their kids are home. Why not spend the money making our schools safe. These resident don’t even wear masks or socially distance from each other and yet the amount of consideration given to them is astounding

    5. babrarus says:

      At $105,000.00 per day, I say NYC is doing great. No need to worry about being broke or not. What a deal, $105 thousand dollars per day for the UWS homeless. Now – multiply this by 180 days (six months) and you get the wonderful number of — $18,900,000.00.
      That’s Eighteen million green bucks plus.
      And you wonder where your tax money goes to? LOL.

    6. Erica says:

      I am running a small business on UWS. My employees having been accosted by these homeless people many times in this past few months. They don’t social distance from each other. They are out on the streets without masks harassing residents who pay high taxes to NYC. As a business owner who pays personal and business taxes to the city this is outrageous. They have effective the lives of many residents in NYC. This is ruining our city. Look at San Francisco and Portland.

      • Otis says:

        Unfortunately our elected officials do not care about people like you.

        It’s not part of their progressive agenda to look out for hard working taxpayers.

      • Concerned Small Business Owner says:

        Agree – I’m also a small business owner continually dealing with problematic people, whether they are street homeless or sheltered. The point is the UWS is overrun and takes more and more than its share and unless everyone wants even MORE empty storefronts in the next few years, we all need to vote much differently for the next mayor. If the UWS wants to allow more shelters, that’s fine – you can enjoy barren vacant empty stores with it because we business owners are sick of the trouble and will find other neighborhoods for our businesses. Think about it.

    7. UpperWest says:

      In thinking about this, there was no way the contract wouldn’t re-up. Impossible to have closed all of these hotels on 10/12 at this point, and that contract is across all hotels, not any individual one. It don’t think it was ever in doubt that it would re-up. The real issues, then, are:
      1) Will the city follow through on the Lucerne plan, or will they not? If there is opposition in FiDi, will pro-shelter forces appear there as well? Who’s organizing those?
      2) Will the city follow through on moving *some* of the hotel residents to shelters sooner, if that can be done safely, in line with the “priority list” plan the Mayor had previously articulated or not? Or is it all or none, across the system?
      3) Did any individual hotels not re-up?

    8. EGF says:

      Wouldn’t it be cheaper to retro-fit the shelters to make them more safe? After all, plastic barriers, social distancing, and excessive disinfecting seems to be acceptable to the rest of society.

    9. UWS person says:

      Let’s do the math on this. We are spending as a city $432 mil on this hotel shelter program and just the hotel rooms !!! 10,000 homeless people for 6 months which is $1.2 mill a night (average of $120 a night) for 180 days in the past mid April-mid Oct or $216 mil and now for another 6 months! Is this how we manage costs and budget when we are bankrupt? Almost a 0.5 billion on hotels turned shelter!!! on top of the $3.2 mil budget in 2019 for the DHS (which doubled since 2014) ?

      And we still have droves of homeless people on the streets who are there doing EVERYTHING on the streets and have taken residence with their belongings, smell, garbage and NO MASKS. This city needs a competent leadership.

    10. Leon says:

      Hopefully Stringer or someone else who understands the concept of fiscal responsibility was involved in these “negotiations” rather than just letting the hotels name their price and agreeing to it.

      There has to be a better alternative. Homeless people from across the northeast will be descending on NYC, knowing that we can’t turn them away and they will get luxury accommodations. Why sleep on the streets of Newark when you can take a cheap trip to Manhattan and get put up in the Belleclaire or Radisson?

      • Peter says:

        There’s no way he understands it (which makes him incompetent), or he is well positioned to benefit from perpetuating the system and the status quo. Not sure which one is worse for a budding mayoral candidate.

        Anyone with a calculator and Google at their fingertips should be able to see that the average annual DHS budget per “client” is not far from the median household income in the country. We’d literally be better off if we abolish the DHS and pay an annual stipend to everyone in the system to live a comfortable middle-class life.

        • UpperWest says:

          Follow the money. People are making a ton off of this, and that is why it happens and keeps going, and will in the end (surprise!) be permanent, not temporary. Government is handing out favors in exchange for whatever politicians involved want in return. There is no focus on good, sound governance. Follow. the. money.

          It has happened before, is happening again.

          • MP says:

            300 mio dollars spent on all this! Forget about where they should live or the NIMBY argument. What makes these men so much better than the rest of us that the city is willing to spend 300 mio dollars???? How about we put them up at the plaza and offer them crystal?

          • viv says:

            The Euclid Hall, an SRO on Broadway, that runs an entire block from 85th to 86th St.is an old WS fixture. Has anyone noticed that suddenly many of the buildings residents have taken over the block-drinking, yelling, etc. under a scaffold and in the bus stop.What happened to their services and supervision? It is impossible to walk on the block.

            Contrast them with the beautifully run Intergenerational building for unwed mothers on WEA and 83rd St.,where there are exterior cameras,no loitering and basically no evidence of the inhabitants.

            • Leon says:

              I have noticed that about Euclid Hall – the scaffolding exacerbates the situation, making it harder to get by. There have always been residents hanging out outside, but they were not a nuisance – no problem with that. But now it is a quality of life issue. I feel bad for Mamma’s Famous – this is likely hurting their business.

              If only every place could be as well run as Intergenerational. I think part of the difference is that is mainly women and kids. Many who complain about the Lucerne would not be complaining if it was that well run.

        • WeaGuy says:

          Stringer for mayor is a hard pass. Next.

        • Leon says:

          The Mayor declared an emergency and bypassed all of the traditional checks and balances of government (including the Comptroller’s office) when he initially handed out the extremely lucrative COVID hotel contracts. So no one is to blame but deBlasio and his inner circle. As I said, hopefully others were looped in for the renewals – I trust Stringer more than deBlasio.

    11. Jean Luke says:

      Below is all you need to know about DeBlassio being in a dirty bed with the Hotel Lobby of NYC.

      NY Times article from Jan. 2, 2020

      “The Hotel Trades Council endorsed Mr. de Blasio for the Democratic nomination and then spent $440,000 on ads outside New York supporting his candidacy.

      It marshaled a torrent of small-dollar contributions from thousands of room attendants and bartenders, bellhops and banquet waiters — accounting for about 30 percent of all of Mr. de Blasio’s total donors.”

    12. Ali Howdy says:

      We downtown financial district residents don’t want your Lucerne people either.

    13. JerryV says:

      How many people could Gracie Mansion hold? Since the City already owns it, it seems like a logical choice. And with the Mayor living there, he could keep his eyes on things.

    14. Mark says:

      If Cuomo approved the millionaire tax UWSERs wouldn’t have to go through this. It was passed in NJ and those big rollers don’t plan on leaving per the article in the NYTs thus past weekend. Cuomo is protecting his cronies.

    15. Jack says:

      And don’t forget that these hotels, charging the city and taxpayers enormous amounts to keep their hotels at 100% capacity, which they would never otherwise have, also received PPP funds. A real slap in the face to the businesses in NYC who didn’t receive assistance from the city, or the PPP program, and have had to let people go or completely shut down.

    16. Newcavendish says:

      Once again, with respect to the Belnord and the Belleclaire as well as the Lucerne, the crucial question is whether the City and the non-profit can manage the deportment of their clients appropriately. If so, fine, they’re welcome. If they can’t behave themselves in an appropriate manner, then either the City should do something about it, or they should not be putting these establishments in a residential district. The noise, dirt, aggressions, panhandling and inappropriate conduct have been too evident so far.

    17. Neal Hugh Hurwitz says:

      There are four hotels on the Upper West Side currently housing individuals without homes: Hotel Belleclaire, on West 77th and Broadway, The Lucerne, on West 79th and Amsterdam, The Belnord Hotel, on West 87th between Amsterdam and Broadway, and The Park West Hotel, on Central Park West, between 106th and 107th Streets.— Where is a sane policy on differentiating among addicts, mentally not well, sex offenders, parolees, etc. ??????????

    18. Alistair Chase-Elliott says:

      It will be cheaper for the city to approve housing Choice vouchers for the homeless,and prosecute landlords who in violation of New York State Human Rights Laws, are discriminating against poor New Yorkers, in refusing to accept vouchers. Due to COVID the city has a lot of rental vacant apartments because of fleeing New Yorkers

    19. Rorschach says:

      Two words –
      Curtis Sliwa

      • Alessa says:

        All of these comments reasonably demand transparency. Yet, incredibly our elected “representatives” have conspired with radicals to mask any real dialogue and turn it into a race issue, labeling their constituents racist and classist for wanting safety and communication. I am not rich. I did not leave all summer. It is insulting and eye opening to over and over hear these accusations from Linda, Helen, Gale, and even Jumanne and Maya Wiley have the nerve to try to opportunistically use the moment to show their “progressive” stripes, with countless photo opps at the Lucerne, at the cost of the homeless and community. At this point the only candidate for mayor who looks sane to date is Loree Sutton.

    20. World Peacenik says:

      Eliminating SROs and affordable housing has left people homeless.

      Eliminating welfare supports added to this homelessness.

      So here we are.

    21. Patrick says:

      Be very careful , they did this in LA then used eminent domain and took over the hotels and turned them into permenant shelters without having to go thru the neighborhood councils.

    22. XStacy says:

      And under current law – if you’ve been in a hotel for 6 months you can claim legal residency. They are here to STAY!