Lucerne Decision Delayed; ‘Judge Is Still Working On It’

By Carol Tannenhauser

Judge Debra James was expected to rule by 5 p.m. on Monday whether the men living in The Lucerne hotel on West 79th Street will be moved to another “homeless hotel” downtown — but the hour came and went without a decision. A source involved in the case told West Side Rag that “the judge is still working on it.”

“Does that mean we wait another night?” WSR asked.

”At least another night,” the source responded.

The case now comes down to two residents of The Lucerne, both experiencing homelessness, one claiming that he will suffer “irreparable harm” if he is moved, the other saying he will suffer the same if he stays. Both claim to speak for the majority of the 200+ residents of the hotel. And the community.

One community organization — WestCo — was part of the suit to lift the Temporary Restraining Order that is keeping the men at The Lucerne, but the judge blocked them from participating in the case, ruling that neighbors have no say in the siting of homeless shelters. The de Blasio administration is also calling for the men to be moved.

Two other respondents on the other side obtained permanent housing before the hearing took place last Monday, and so were also disqualified. The organization that is advocating for the men to stay is called UWS Open Hearts.

Both sides are arguing that their position is better for the neighborhood and the men.

WSR tried repeatedly to reach Judge James and her staff to ask about the timing of her decision, but encountered recorded messages. We’ll keep you posted.

NEWS | 45 comments | permalink
    1. MAD says:

      Note that the Medical Examiner was at the Lucerne this morning; also 2 ambulances and fire engines were called but not sure if all were part of the same incident. ME visit is not normal procedure.

    2. Leon says:

      The good news is that the anti-social behavior by the men in the Lucerne seems to be less of a problem. That was one of the major issues the opponents had, and anyone who denied these problems existed had their head in the sand.

      The bad news is that the city is still spending a small fortune per capita on these men, which is a completely unfair allocation of resources when so many homeless people are getting virtually nothing.

      • Ian Alterman says:

        The problem with your first paragraph is the same one that led to the initial lawsuit in the first place. The “conditions” that occurred early on may or may not have been the fault of these men: at the same time that they were moved in, the MTA closed the subways, DOUBLING the street homeless population, including on the UWS. So it would have been impossible to determine which of the conditions were the fault of the increase in street homeless, and which were the fault of men at the Lucerne. Yet WestCo (and now you) conflate the two populations, and scapegoat the men at the Lucerne for everything.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          thank you Ian. Very well said.

          Can i also note that Leon criticizes some of the supporters for “having their heads in the sand”, supposedly denying that problems existed. Yet he concedes that the problem in the neighborhood have now subsided.

          And yet we have many dozens of commenters who keep insisting that there are still big behavioral problems, that the Lucerne has meant the downfall of the neighborhood. Do these people have a grip on reality? Why no criticism of them for exaggeration and scare mongering?

    3. Concerned UWS says:

      Sadly there was a death there today. I think this is the 3rd one since they arrived. Hard to see how the men are getting the help they need to overcome their addictions. And factor in the costs the city pays. Who is really benefiting from this arrangement…really?

      • Ian Alterman says:

        All the men are offered every possible avenue of help with their addictions and substance use issues. But it is against the law to FORCE them to accept the programs they are offered, and they cannot be ejected from the program or hotel for not doing so. The man who died (I knew him) had all the help he needed at his disposal. He simply did not make use of that help.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          Ian, condolences on the loss of your friend.

        • Peter says:

          Sounds like a great system. No enforcement, no consequences, no responsibility, no consistently positive outcomes, no cost-benefit analyses, no oversight, no efficiency. Funny how the taxpayers seem to be the only ones actually FORCED to do anything – pay and shut up. But we sure do appreciate all the virtue signaling, shaming, political grandstanding, homeless industry graft, and race-baiting when we ask questions.

      • Cathy says:

        Sadly, it is the fourth death at the hotel from overdoses
        Project Renewal is a total scam.

        The men do not have to participate in any AA or NA classes. They do not have to sustain from drinking, doing drugs or shooting up.

        There is a preference that it is not done in the hotel which is why you witnessed the shooting up on the street.

        • Lisa says:

          I really think NYC is the worst possible place for any homeless person to try to get sober. People can easily get their fix by panhandling and there is no law against sleeping on the streets – NYC law practically celebrates the right to indulge in these behaviors. If we were serious about saving lives we would handle things quite differently.

    4. ZoomZ says:

      You still don’t get it?
      The homeless will stay put.
      The court has had plenty of time to decide.
      It will delay again & again.
      It will be spring before there will be a decision to vacate, and then the lawyers will take over – again, and the decision will be delayed – again.
      Get used to it – they are not going anywhere.

      • Paul says:

        Yep, they’re never leaving. Even if the judge rules for them to be moved some other judge will stop that with another injunction. It’s just going to keep going on and on.

      • Ian Alterman says:

        let us remember that the reason they were moved into hotels in the first place was to ease the overcrowding in congregate shelters so that the men could socially distance better, thus decreasing the potential for getting the virus. And this has worked. You may also have forgotten that when WestCo first threatened its lawsuit, the mayor said that he would NOT kowtow to lawsuits, and the men would not be moved unless and until the health data supported their move back to congregate shelters. But he caved in to his pal Randy Mastro (attorney for WestCo), which set this whole thing in motion.

        The men should not be moved until it is safe to do so, particularly not as the pandemic rages into a second wave. They are safe where they are, and are now integrated into the neighborhood. They should be allowed to remain.

        • Mobley says:

          Thank you for sayin that, we need more positive open minded people like you. At the end of the day we are all children of GOD, there are a lot of people here that work everyday, really trying to get their lives back together such as myself. We are all not bad people, we are just going through rough times right now.

        • RB says:

          I agree that we must do everything to help these men socially distance during the 2nd wave of COVID. But wouldn’t social distancing be more effective if the men had their own room (which is what is provided for downtown) vs sharing rooms (which is what they do at the Lucerne)?

        • Ray says:

          Ian, no offense, Doou live anywhere near this hotel?

          The man all congregate together outside and do not wear masks.

          Aggressively panhandle the elderly and the guests have no regard for the fact that they can get the elderly sick from Covid

          They are also double to triple up in the hotel rooms, it is a bonanza $$$$ wise for the hotel owner and really awful if you were trying to socially distance, which the men are not….

          They congregate in the stairwell to smoke and do drugs. There has already been a fire there due to the smoking of crack and being unconscious.

          It’s really a shame that the Westside Rag doesn’t do any reporting about this.

          All you have to do is speak to the residents who live there, the long-term elderly residents.

      • Vince says:

        They are leaving. You are misinformed.

    5. G says:

      Most of the people in Open Hearts don’t even live near the Lucerne. They are blind to the daily chaos. How would they know what is better for the neighborhood? The men would have their own rooms with better ON SITE resources and will be much closer to their doctors and treatment. They would have more indoor space to socially distance. It’s a no brainer.

      • TruthSayer says:

        It’s turned political and the UWS has been cast as the villain, plain and simple.

      • Siv Manny says:

        The Radisson in downtown is no different and doesnt have any better facilities than the Lucerne. This was just a myth spread by UWS group to get the men out of their neighborhood. And if they have really been a problem there, do you think it will get any better in another neighborhood just because you locate them a few blocks closer to their medical services or provide them more indoor space. Come on…

      • Ian Alterman says:

        That is a bald-faced lie! ALL of the leadership of OHI live VERY near the hotel. In fact, it is BECAUSE they do that they formed in the first place.

        Stop spreading lies and misinformation!

        • Steven says:

          Ian, I am really disappointed that this newspaper permits commenters to lie. Open Hearts leaders live in the upper 90’s and 100’s.

          Sorry, but 20 blocks away from the Lucerne Hotel is not near the hotel.

          One of the leaders does have a gym near the hotel. She is being paid to let the men use the gym for exercising.
          That is her right to make money, and so I do not have fault with that

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            reply to Steven:

            what is your source that the Open hearts leader is “being paid to let the men use her gym”? there have been so many false rumors spread through WSR comments, as well as outright scuttlebutt, that I have to respectfully question this.

      • Steen says:

        I live near here and walk by every day. I fail to see “daily chaos.” Yes, there are many more homeless along Broadway, but that is because we are in a *freaking pandemic* with many who have lost jobs and shelters closed. If you have a solution instead of hyperbolic hostility I bet we’d all like to hear it.

    6. Siv Manny says:

      If the Upper West side residents had opposed locating men with substance abuse issues and mental health issues in a residential area hotel without proper services and monitoring, then other neighborhoods would have stood with the them. Instead them wanted to slyly move the problem to a downtown neighborhood and tried all disingenuous means to accomplish it. They acted as though they cared for the welfare of the shelter residents and projected the move as benefiting the shelter residents, when in fact all they wanted was the problem to be gone from their neighborhood. How can you expect downtown to stay silent and accept that, so they naturally took legal action

      • lynn says:

        Weren’t the men moved to the Lucerne after complaints from the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood where they were originally housed? It’s common knowledge. Nothing sly about it.

        • Fed Up says:

          Lynn, The men were moved from the Lower East side to Hell‘s kitchen. There were many complaints on the Lower Eastside which is why they were moved.

          Then they were moved from Hell‘s Kitchen after many complaints there to the UWS.

          I will tell you that my mother is 92 years old and was aggressively panhandled on W. 79th St. and Broadway, and now has Covid.

          I am incredibly angry that my mother is in the hospital, and there is absolutely no care about her. I left a message on Rosenthal‘s machine, and no one ever returned the call.

          I understand these men want money for drugs, but do they have any decency that they would go after a woman who uses a walker and couldn’t walk away.

          • lynn says:

            I’m so very sorry this happened to your mother. Unfortunately these are all problems that I’ve witnessed on a regular basis. If you’re unable to reach Rosenthal by phone you may want to consider stopping by her office.

    7. Ian Alterman says:

      How incredibly coincidental that just as the men file a lawsuit to stay, DHS miraculously finds apartments for two of the three litigants. In fact, very few men had been moved out before then. Yet since the lawsuit was filed, DHS has found permanent housing for 25 men. Sure, that’s a good thing. But it is clearly an attempt to undermine their lawsuit.

      Neat trick.

      • MAD says:

        Amazing that you use the word “trick,” Rev. Alterman. Is that all this is for you?

      • HelenD says:

        So what’s more important, that Open Hearts continues to push their agenda and prove themselves ‘right,’ or that the men get permanent housing? And what about the men who said it would be harmful for them to stay at the Lucerne? Also, isn’t permanent housing preferable to another shelter? There are so many conflicting statements in ALL of the Lucerne threads. 🙁

      • TruthSayer says:

        Yeah, it’s terrible that people are being taken care of. Darn them!

    8. Kate says:

      “one claiming that he will suffer “irreparable harm” if he is moved, the other saying he will suffer the same if he stays. Both claim to speak for the majority of the 200+ residents of the hotel. And the community.”

      We are living in a Kafka story.

      • charles becker says:

        You know the old Jewish joke=- During a service at an old synagogue in Eastern Europe , when the Shema prayer was said, half the congregants stood up and half remained sitting. The half that was seated started yelling at those standing to sit down, and the ones standing yelled at the ones sitting to stand up.

        Sound similar withe litigants

        The rabbi, though learned as he was in the Law and commentaries, didn’t know what to do. His congregation suggested that he consult a housebound 98-year-old man who was one of the original founders of their temple.

        The rabbi hoped the elderly man would be able to tell him what the actual temple tradition was, so he went to the nursing home with a representative of each faction of the congregation. The one whose followers stood during Shema said to the old man, “Is it the tradition to stand during this prayer?”

        The old man answered, “No, that is not the tradition.”

        The one whose followers sat, said, “Then it must be the tradition to sit during Shema!”

        The old man answered, “No, that is not the tradition.”

        Then the rabbi said to the old man, “But the members of the congregation fight all the time, yelling at each other about whether they should sit or stand.”

        The old man interrupted, exclaiming, “THAT is the tradition!”
        It sounds like the opposing litigants, doesn’t it?

    9. Francesca says:

      Big thanks for being THE news source for tge ‘hood.

    10. DenaliBoy says:

      Let’s get real. They are addicts-many are mentally ill. You can’t force them to use services. They will do as they please. Many will continue their anti-social behavior. We are the victims-yes, we have to put up with the yelling/screaming, drug users on the street, urinating on buildings, hassling of pedestrians etc. It has become my problem. Yes, I do not want them in my backyard.

    11. Alan S says:

      If some of these men are battling alcoholism they should not be living across the street from not one but two liquor stores it’s not fair to them…and if they are living two to a room at the Lucerne aren’t they better off and safer with their own rooms downtown? The upper West side has been painted unfairly as a bigoted neighborhood it’s always been inclusive and had all kinds of people of all backgrounds and incomes living here unlike the upper East side
      nobody up here complained about the Belleclaire or the Bell Nord. I think they’re moving in there would not have created such a stink had they not been a. all male with serious problems and b.there had been more notice that they were coming.. their arrival was announced just a few days before and Helen Rosenthal claimed she had not been made aware either though I don’t believe this since she has much to gain financially from them being in this hotel

      • P.L. says:

        Only a few days ago I was on the corner of 79th on the side of the hotel to walk over to the Duane Reade. I saw 2 men walk out of the hotel & crossed with me. They too went into the Duane Reade. When I went to get in line they were in line in front of me, buying a case of beer.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          reply to PL:

          assuming your story is true (a lot of the Tales of the Lucerne from opponents on this website are demonstrably false), how do you know that these men were alcoholics? they could be suffering from some other condition.

          you are denigrating them for legal behavior, and prying into their personal business. How would you feel if i spied on what you were buying, and reported it on a community blog?

          • Boris says:

            Did the poster identify anyone? There’s nothing wrong with the poster giving an account of what he/she saw. People can make their own minds up whether they approve of people on the public dole using their government funds to subsidize beer purchases. They don’t need to limit their opinions because you’re so ridiculously oversensitive. Acting like a crybaby all the time is not very appealing.

      • Siv Manny says:

        and are you telling me there are no liquor stores downtown? This is why uws is being labelled bigoted, because you want to send the problem away to another neighborhood under the ruse of caring about the welfare of these men. All you want is to get rid of the men. At least have the decency to come out and say that openly instead of making up facts about things being better for these men downtown

        • LK says:

          You appear a little too eager. If you had just said, “we don’t want addicts in our neighborhood”, we’d understand you. But when people from your neighborhood go to our neighborhood meetings and tell us that we are bigoted and the addicts need to stay here, your disingenuity and agenda are clear.

    12. Bridgetbombshell says:

      Amazing that 2 of the 3 on the TRO got permanent housing…all of a sudden.
      ..goes to show how easy it really is….they keep good people in(collect their(city) money with no problems.
      .people who cause problems get housing… get rewarded for bad behavior….