By Carol Tannenhauser
With the election (almost) behind us, Upper West Siders are turning their attention back to local issues — chief among them, homelessness. What is the fairest, most humane and effective way of helping those experiencing homelessness during a pandemic, while taking into account the effects of placing a homeless shelter in a community, real and perceived?
The Upper Wide Side is learning the hard way. The transformation of four local commercial hotels into temporary homeless shelters this summer set off a firestorm of protest and counter protest, media, legal and political activity that has divided the community and thrust us into the center of a citywide, national and international debate. The UWS even became a Republican talking point!
Tonight, Thursday, at 5:30 p.m., former borough president and 50-year advocate for social justice on the Upper West Side, Ruth Messinger, will explore these events and their implications in a conversation with Shams DaBaron, a.k.a Da Homeless Hero, a resident of The Lucerne hotel, who knows firsthand the workings and weaknesses of NYC’s homeless shelter system and its use of commercial hotels.
“With the current crisis at hand, we wanted to zoom out a little and think about the issues at large and about models for providing services,” wrote Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann in an email to WSR. Her synagogue, SAJ, is one of the primary organizers of tonight’s event. “We wanted to then think a bit about community relations and also zone in on the Lucerne. We hope that this program will not be only for those who support or are active with the Lucerne already, rather that they would also be for those who are unsure, have complicated feelings or want to learn more. ”
Register to join the 5:30 Zoom conversation here.
Other primary organizers are B’nai Jeshurun and the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, who are working on a series of educational programs together. Sponsors include Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York, St. Paul & St. Andrew, Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim, Base MNHTN, Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness, Manhattan Church of Christ, The Jewish Center, Broadway United Church of Christ, Romemu, Rutgers Presbyterian Church, West End Synagogue, Darkhei Noam.