State Supreme Court Judge Debra James dismissed a lawsuit against the city brought by residents of The Lucerne Hotel on 79th Street, allowing the men to be moved downtown to a Radisson on William Street.
The judge ruled that “the intervening residents have no right to choose their own temporary placements. Thus, such parties have no grievance that is ripe for review, having suffered no harm cognizable under the law, and this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and the intervening parties’ premature pleadings must be dismissed.”
The full ruling is here.
“We are hurt,” said Shams DaBaron, also known as Da Homeless Hero, a resident of The Lucerne and a respondent in the case, in a statement. “This decision negatively affects homeless people throughout America and that’s really what this fight was about: having our voices heard, challenging an irrational decision made by the Mayor to please some rich folk. But the fact that we got this far in the conversation and exposed the City for the inhumanity it has not just towards homeless individuals but towards all Black and Brown people is a huge win.”
For some of the men, this will be the third time they have had to move since the start of the pandemic.
“Words cannot express how I feel about this decision greenlighting the City’s forcible relocation of the homeless residents of the Lucerne on the day before Thanksgiving,” said Michael Hiller, attorney for the men fighting to stay. “All I can say right now is that I disagree with the decision. As for next steps, our clients are currently considering their options.”
The Lucerne has served as a homeless shelter since late July as the city attempted to find safer accommodations for the homeless amid the spread of Covid-19. Opponents said the men — some of whom are dealing with substance abuse issues — were causing a decline in the quality of life in the area, and lobbied for them to be moved elsewhere. The group, organized as a nonprofit called The West Side Community Organization, praised the judge’s decision as a positive for the men. “Housing DHS clients at 52 William Street will provide on-site medical and support services,
Councilmember Helen Rosenthal wrote that the ruling was “devastating news… Regardless of court outcome, it’s very disheartening that the Mayor would move homeless men struggling for stability with no justification.”
Wrote Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, “I am disappointed in the judge’s decision to lift the restraining order against the Mayor’s decision to move homeless residents of the Lucerne. If the city moves these residents to the Radisson, it will likely displace 22 homeless residents already living there. There may be more developments on the legal front underway, but let’s be clear: the approach to our city’s homeless population is misguided and ill-advised. We must do better.”
Others had pushed for the men to stay, and have held events to welcome and support them. A group called UWS Open Hearts held weekly “free stores” that allowed people to donate items and talk to the men.
Reporting by Amelia Roth-Dishy and Carol Tannenhauser.
Next stop: The Supreme Court of NY state.
The Supreme Court is New York’s lowest court.
What about the court that adjudicates parking tickets?
Nope. That would be the Civil Court.
He means Supreme is the lowest NY Court of general jurisdiction,
You know what I meant and I am of NY city & state, for the past 55 years.
Thanks for your knowledge and passing it on to me.
NYS names it courts differently. You are not from NYS?
Supreme Court -yes they call the court that first hears the case this.
Appellate Courts that hear appeals from Supreme courts.
Court of Appeals (The States “Supreme Court”)
If someone appeals this it will go to the Appellate Court.
“exposed the City for the inhumanity it has not just towards homeless individuals but towards all Black and Brown people is a huge win.”
I am fed up that people using the race card when life doesn’t turn out the way they want.
I had a post up earlier that seems to have been taken down agreeing with this statement. Not sure why it was censored, especially after initially being posted.
People blame racism when it isn’t the case, which trivializes the times there really is racism. As a Jew, I do not cry anti-semitism any time someone opposes me.
reply to Leon:
I don’t know why your former post was removed, but it contained a personal, and to many offensive, attack on Da Homeless Hero (DHH). So just a guess.
re: racism: from the NYT article yesterday:
“…residents of the Upper West Side formed a private Facebook group that featured frequent posts blaming the men for public drug use, urinating in the street and harassment and at times described them using racist, dehumanizing language.”
So racism was indeed a factor. maybe DHH encountered it. It would be helpful to ask him, instead of assuming he is wrong.
Bruce Bernstein- there were many agitators with Fake FB accounts who were putting up posts with offensive language. I am an admin and went through each acct.
The FB acts were fake and had just been opened. All of the those individuals were removed from the group. I work full time and could not monitor every comment as it was written. The problem was letting people join without verifying the acct ( just opened, no picture, and no history). I did write to the NYT, but they never responded.
I’m reading this for the first and glad to clarify. When I speak of racism, I speak about systemic racism as it is reflected in the policies of the City. Sure, there are racist people all around but I’m clear that I don’t consider everyone who is opposed to us being here a racist. In fact, I give little attention to the racist and hateful comments attributed to us. My issue is with the City and how it deals with its homeless population that is 93%, Black and Brown. The Judge’s decision pointed out much of this but there are laws that don’t protect homeless people living in shelters. That speaks of the systemic inequities that permeate every aspect of City government, not just in terms of homelessness.
Could not have said it better
Substance abusers/mentally ill have the right to refuse services and there is not a damn thing we can do to help them if they refuse.
I have enjoyed reading Da Homeless Hero’s accounts throughout this process, but he went off the rails with this one.
I wish the men well, but I am happy to see that Judge James came to the correct conclusion.
No word on when they have to vacate?
NY Times online: A spokesman for the city’s law department, Nicholas Paolucci, said that officials planned to begin moving the men after Thanksgiving.
Tou’re kidding, right? If not, the correct aanswer is “the twelfth of never.”
Since when does someone who is getting food & shelter for FREE get to decide where & when they should have it? If they don’t like it they can always go somewhere else.
I agree. There are thousands of New Yorkers who live at the far end of the outer boroughs in tiny homes and commute over an hour each way to work (sometimes multiple jobs) and pay taxes. They would love to live here but it is not an option.
I’m sorry they love our neighborhood but can’t stay. There are many others who feel the same way but that doesn’t mean we all get to live here. I’d love a penthouse on CPW. If someone wants to give their own home to Da Homeless Hero, have at it.
Before you start celebrating, just remember, this is not the first time we were told they were about to be moved. Last time they were only hours away from it & look what happened. Until the last bus with the last person in there pulls away, THEN I’ll believe it. And do you really believe the few homeless people who claimed they would rather go back to the streets than move down to the Radisson? Like anyone would pick the cold streets of a NYC winter then another hotel stay for FREE with all their meals included. But again, I’ll believe this to be true after they are all out.
What’s this “you”?
Speak for yourself.
Signed: A resident of the area.
Thank you. Tired of people assuming that all UWS’ers are against the Lucerne men.
By taking that position they have shamed us all.
The UWS’s reputation is now of an unfeeling neighborhood, unduly frightened by the Lucerne residents, and, as their ‘Betters’, threw them out in the holiday season.
We are all disgraced now. And well earned.
Unfeeling? Disgraced? We had more hotels converted to homeless shelters per square mile than any other district, and it was creating safety issues. That’s called poor city planning. The disgrace is not on the UWS. It’s on the city.
I am not against the Lucerne men or am I an unfeeling person. However from these start I was against the decision to house close to 200 men at a hotel in a residential area close to several schools without community input. We were told that part of the reason the men were being moved into the Lucerne was due to Covid concerns at their prior facility. Yet these men rarely wore masks that covered their entire face when outside the facility and certainly didn’t practice social distancing. It sounds like they will get better services and support at their new facility downtown. Plus they will have their own rooms, continued social services and job training. Sounds like a better situation for them and I welcome their move.
I am disappointed with Helen Rosenthal and Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer’s position and they have lost my support and vote in the future. Seems to me that their opinions were too influenced by politics at the expense of what was in the best interest for the neighborhood.
Totally absurd that those of us in favor of the move are being labeled as racist, heartless, etc.
Maybe Open Hearts can care about a shelter in the upper 90’s /low 100’s as that is where their leaders live….
Hypocrisy is off the charts here.
I don’t know if you’re serious, but the 90s has perhaps the highest concentration of shelters, SROs, and supportive housing in “rich” Manhattan. The 90s were a traditional dumping ground for these institutions as there wasn’t a strong enough neighborhood body to fight back. It’s one of the reasons why Neighborhood in the 90s was formed.
Oh my! What will the owner of the Lucerne do now without the profit of having 2 to 3 men in a room?
$350( 2 men) -$400 (3 men) a room gone!
Can we start a go fund me for him?
The writer of this post has to be out to lunch. Where in the world do you get your facts? NONE of it is true.
He will have another contract with the City and more homeless will be moved in. Do you really believe the Lucerne will be shut down? This ruling doesn’t stop the city using the Lucerne to house more people and they will continue to do so. One group swapped out for another that’s all. Is UWS getting ready for the next lawsuit? What this ruling means for UWS is that they will definitely have no legal grounds to oppose who the city houses in their neighborhood, since Downtowners suit was dismissed.
To the men at The Lucerne: I am so sorry the judge ruled this way. I am ashamed that the mayor is pursuing the removal of you from the neighborhood. He is spineless, and the damage this will cause to you all is inexcusable. I want you to know many of us care about you. I’m so sorry.
Do you think they’re reading this comment section or something?
Jesus Christ. You think they’re all illiterate or too dumb to use the Internet or something?
The shame of this will not be forgotten. In this crisis, many people have come together to help their fellow New Yorkers. Others banded together and spent who knows how much to drive some from their shelter in the middle of the holiday season. Shame, shame, shame.
There have been multiple shelter residents who have commented on this website, including Da Homeless Hero, so yes.
Interesting how moving them from congregate shelters to a 2-per-room temporary hotel was viewed as essential for their protection in the pandemic, but moving to 1-per-rooom permanent facility in the same pandemic somehow constitutes “damage”.
Or did you have other agenda?
My agenda is solely to treat homeless people like human beings, with care, empathy, dignity and grace.
Moving the men around like chess pieces is not cool.
Programs and services have been set up.
Interfaith clergy are coming together to run the Soulful Walk & Talk program. Some of the men are working to clean up our streets, and they are doing a great job by the way. It is something that benefits all of us, and I appreciate their participation, despite the angst they must feel knowing their place to land is uncertain. Partnerships within the community are being created. Bonds are being made. It is productive and stabilizing for the men and for the neighborhood residents who care about them.
There are many residents of the neighborhood who support having the men here. The UWS has 214,000+ residents; the 14,000+ residents who wanted them out (some before the men even got here) are in the minority, but De Blasio didn’t even bother to do more than a drive-by to access the situation.
There has been so much progress and now the men are about to be moved AGAIN to another place where they will have to start the process all over. It’s not good for anybody to be thrown around like this, especially people who are already in precarious positions.
As I said at the beginning of my post, my agenda is to treat the men with dignity and empathy, care and grace. Really, is that too much to ask?
Perhaps the Lucerne will be used for families.
There are many homeless families with children
( babies, toddlers,school-age) in midtown hotels. There is no place to buy food, no playgrounds or parks, no schools, no medical, etc.
Midtown, near Times Square and Penn Station are horrible and dangerous for children.
The Lucerne is not a homeless shelter. It never was. When a COVID-19 vaccine is available to the masses, the tourism industry in NYC will pick up again, and the Lucerne will be used as a hotel once again. This is its intended purpose. Temporarily housing the homeless at hotels is a very poorly thought-out plan by the de Blasio administration.
A handful of them started to clean up the streets a couple of days just before the court hearing.
This was nothing but a PR stunt engineered by their advocates.
Treat them with dignity?
Why would you put a man who is trying to get sober/clean with a man who is not… That my friend is opposite of dignity.
“I’m really getting fed up with folks who expect everything for free and I should pay for it.”
I GUESS YOU’RE NOT READY FOR THE BIDEN ADMIN.
And I am getting fed up with bigoted hateful people that only care about themselves and seem to think hiding behind monikers give them the right to act as they do. Educate yourselves about the issues and stop having knee-jerk reactions.
Robert, because someone disagrees with your viewpoint doesn’t mean they are bigoted or uneducated on the issues. Calling those who disagree with you names makes you look defensive – we have had a President for 4 years doing that and its just disrespectful.
But I think you may have good answers to help those here.
You’d be better off having a dialogue with those upset (both on UWS and downtown) and address their concerns. Explain why the Radisson isn’t a better option for (most) Lucerne residents. Or why using expensive luxury hotel rooms is fair for taxpayers.
You took the words right out of my typing fingers.
Yeah, I am no longer a fan of his. If you read his whole statement – https://twitter.com/UWSOpenHearts/status/1331656299206107138/photo/1
He claims to want to unite the community, but describes the move downtown as an “irrational decision by the Mayor to please some rich folk.” This ignores that he will now have his own room and better access and proximity to services. I guess that doesn’t sound good though…
Finally, the correct decision.
I doubt this is the end of this mess, but I’ll take a small victory any day.
I hope the family of the gentleman who died there this week sues anyone involved in stalling this move. It is not unreasonable to think a better served facility with medical on site could have saved his life. There have been multiple deaths at the Lucerne, my guess is the latest had to be a wakeup call to the judge.
I may have missed the article(s) on the death or deaths of the residents at the Lucerne. If true, it’s a real shame.
I hope that the haphazard way that the city handled the move to the Lucerne serves as a wake-up call: we need to help the most vulnerable by building community support not by antagonizing residents. It seems like this has turned into a game for many of the politicians who are “devastated” by the judge’s ruling. Their focus instead should be on what needs to be done to bring the community together and build consensus on tackling homelessness (not divide).
And what they are doing to ensure the move to the hew location and community is more successful. These men arrived to Lucerne after a very tumultuous stopover at Washington Jefferson. It didn’t seem like any new precautions were taken to foster community integration. Maybe this time they will have their act together more to benefit everyone. Including the local community. Their needs matter too.
Frank you are WAY OUT OF LINE. Stop using someone’s death to try to make a point. It is wrong, vile, and not worthy of anyone to do whether your are for or against these men staying here.
I am trying to get clean, but was put in room at lucerne with someone who was not. It’s difficult to stop using when you bunkmate is. I am happy to go to single room.
Good luck to you. I hope you find the support you need to continue the progress you have made. It seems strange to me that PR would pair people who are at such different places when it comes to something as delicate as sobriety. Best of luck.
Good to go – i am with you also our voices were not herd as the open heart group did not listen to us.
Let’s be VERY clear about what happened here. The ONLY legal winners were the mayor and the City. UWSSS and WestCo had a pyrrhic victory at best (in as much as the men will be moved), given that they were not even granted standing to sue. And Fi-Di Safer Streets (the downtown NIMBY group), which filed the original lawsuit, was also rejected, since they were NOT granted the TRO they sought.
This effectively sets a precedent that NIMBY-minded community groups have no legal standing to either prevent or cause the movement of homeless people within the shelter system.
The residents win a partial victory, since the judge DID grant them standing to sue, but ultimately ruled against them, in favor of the City. So they won a much more important and significant LEGAL victory than the NIMBYs.
The judge’s ruling was simply an acknowledgement that the Court had no “subject matter jurisdiction”; i.e., that the City has the absolute right to administer the shelter system in whatever way it sees fit. Period.
When they start calling you “tiresome” and saying “if you REALLY cared about these men [you would agree with the right wingers]”, it just means that they can’t answer your arguments.
You have the courage of your convictions and also the courage to put your name behind your thoughts. Most of the right wing commentators on this blog have neither.
Keep it up! Many of us — quite probably the majority on the UWs — agree with you.
Your comments laden with terms like NIMBY have become tiresome. If you really cared about these men you would know that the services provided at the Lucerne have not been adequate since the day they moved in and therefore fight for that instead of slander. Residents in this neighborhood have rights to quality of life and this “temporary” shelter did NOT improve it. Yet you seem focused on slandering the people who have made this neighborhood a neighborhood!
There are no services at the Radisson. It is just another hotel. No shelter or hotel provides service. We have more services here at The Lucerne than any shelter/hotel on the UWS. This is because we brought them here. Perhaps too late due to the City’s lack of respect for the community and the homeless population they serve, but services as of this writing do exist here…
“The City has the absolute right to administer the shelter system in whatever way it sees fit. Period.” More accurately, as to *temporary* shelters, as the judge distinguished prior precedent. But seems to be a loophole the city could drive a truck through going forward.
Your comment fails to acknowledge that some of residents of the Lucerne sued not only to stop the transfer, but to compel it. Those Lucerne residents who sued to compel the transfer won a real victory: better services, lowered risk of virus contagion, recreational space, and proximity to medical services. The representation that those who sued to stop the transfer made, falsely stating that they “represent the voices of all Lucerne residents” was not only dishonest, but ill-thought out in light of the ease of disproving this misstatement. On this comment page alone, two residents have raised their voices in support of the relocation, noting that Open Hearts “did not listen” to them. Does Open Hearts exist to listen to the voices of all homeless — or to push an agenda regardless of what the homeless say when they ask to be heard?
It was one individual on the paperwork who stands outside and panhandles. He’s on the paperwork and just last week was reprimanded for having drugs in his room. He’s an active drug user that West Co took advantage of admitted in its affidavit that they supplied him with food, Uber rides, and a burner phone. They took advantage of someone who might die in that single room because he is not in recovery. He is looking for the space to be by himself to use drugs. As the person at the forefront of bringing services on-site and making sure PR did what it needed to do to address community concerns I can tell you that in the case of the individual who wanted to go, has no interest in getting services because he does not attend services anywhere and never has. He was taken advantage of.
At this point I just want this saga to end. But undoubtedly someone will appeal and the case drags on into higher courts. Tax payer money being wasted on legal back-and-forth where the only winners are lawyers.
Yes, the lawyers made a lot of money from this mess. So did the professional “homeless advocates”. So did the hotel owners who got reimbursed from the city at higher rates than renting to regular overnight guests.
Our elected officials who received donations from the hotel industry also made out well.
Homelessness is a thriving industry in NYC.
reply to Otis:
Can you please tell me which “professional homeless advocates” made “a lot of money” on this? Are you talking about Project Recovery? they are not “professional homeless advocates” but social service providers. I don’t imagine Open Hearts UWS “made a lot of money”, or ANY money.
Some people like to throw around accusations to make it seem like those siding with the homeless have unsavory financial motives for doing so.
I dont know why people feel like we owe these men anything more. We support the community—the small businesses who try to survive here and the families who have been here putting into the community— if they now need help. This group is not part of the community at all. The group as a whole has been completely disruptive to the area (and if you dont think so then you have not walked around the blocks affected). As for the number in favor of them staying, that is miniscule. Someone please do a real survey or we will constantly have to hear those claims.
Because they’re your fellow human beings. Pray you never need the kind of help you think you owe no one.
Sarah– Sorry if you misread that part where I said owe them “anything MORE.” They are getting the Help they want. It is just not going to be at the boutique hotel the Lucerne. What is your issue with that? We give them the help and now they also want to choose where specifically in Manhattan they are getting this help? I pray too to the good LORD above you never need that kind of help either but if you do, that you don’t reject it because it is a subway ride away from where you would ideally like to be.
I am confused by the responses here. The city is providing housing+services to these men. it is not unreasonable for the city determine the location.
The protest re Lucerne was not against providing services in the UWS. It was about the high concentration in region, the lack of notification and that this group had previously been evicted due to behavioural issues.
I think for the wealthiest country in the world to have homelessness and the level of poverty we have is an atrocity, We need immediate and massive structural change to our economy. but that is a separate issue from this.
Bravo Judge James.
The homeless situation in NYC must be addressed at its root – mental health a lack of jobs to name two. Until a plan is created people will just be shuttled from one neighborhood to another causing additional instability.
To Open Hearts,
If you’ll be continuing work to support people experiencing homelessness, I urge you to consider assisting homeless families in need, especially during the Covid crisis.
There are families in West Side shelters.
And in really dire situations, homeless families – babies, children, parents – placed in hotels in midtown, including near Penn Station and Times Square
The Lucerne is not the place for these men. Just seeing the number of ambulances, cop cars, and fire trucks there on a daily basis is shocking! Three days ago they carried out a dead body with a forensic medical examiner there, two days ago I saw them bring another man out and put him in an ambulance. This is routine and there have been a number of deaths there due to overdoses. I, myself, have witnessed several with the man keeling over right in front of me. These men need to be in a facility that can handle them and their “special needs”…..not the Lucerne.
Can we hope this farce (and the waste of public resources) is now over? We continue to see the downsides of the homeless hotels and little sign that the city is managing legitimate complaints. The whole thing has been mismanaged and misrepresented. Ms. Rosenthal’s reaction is ridiculous political grandstanding. If the city had done its job properly in find a place to lodge these people (at the public charge), and managed the utterly predicable problems, we would not need all this hand-wringing and guilt-tripping now.
Not Black and Brown People, Da Homeless Knight … Black and Brown MEN … perhaps single women or women with children will appreciate their good fate a little bit more if they get moved in from still crowded shelters for winter time.
There have been many real problems associated with the sudden placement of 300 men, most needing services and daytime occupation they are not getting, at the Lucerne. People upset about the shelters are not heartless but are realistic. Many of the homeless that were moved into our neighborhood (700 within a 9 block area) have drug and/or mental health issues/ sex offenders, and are not safe, clean neighbors. When people flee the city they take their tax dollars with them, money spent on local businesses, schools, etc. There are major economic ripples. There’s been terrible management of the homeless by the city and too many issues at the Lucerne. These men need to be moved to more permanent housing with onsite services and much better management.
That’s a shame hearing this news…. I was working on a project with the Roosevelt NY Parks department on having the good people staying at the Lucerne hotel volunteering their help on cleaning up the park with the caretakers of the park.
There are at least 20 other UWS facilities housing temporary residents from where you can source workers for your program.
I truly do not understand why all the focus and energy is on helping the Lucerne men, and why we rarely if ever hear about programs supporting the other 20+ shelters.
They’re not disappearing from the face of the Earth. They’re moving a 20-min subway ride away.
I’m a red dot in a sea of blue. Somehow we must help these people. Government is not doing a good job. The courts are bouncing these people around like ping pong balls. The comment that they gave no right to choose their residences and therefore have no grievance is preposterous. They are people, not pigs. I hope a Libertarian movement fiords to take these people out of incompetent government hands.
Beggers can’t be choosers.
What about the other hotels on the UWS? Will they be vacating also?
I’ve been an UWS resident for 30 years and this is a microcosm of what I’ve come to expect from my neighborhood. High minded liberalism (I too am of the left wing politically) when it comes to the world view but when it is time to apply those values tot you and your family (or neighborhood) than hyper-protectivism takes over….. just look at the ridiculously segregated public schools in the area. Time and time again I saw blue all the way through Moms and Dads take a gross nativist approach when the threat of black and brown children may be sitting next to their first grader. Gifted and Talented?!?!? Anderson Program?!??? The Lucerne situation is just another hypocritical stain on this neighborhood.
They were only supposed to be there a few weeks. They got 5 months out of it & people talk of how unfair it is to uproot them with short notice. SeriouslY? How is getting over 3 months longer to be there giving them or anyone short notice. The people downtown fighting to keep them at the Lucern are doing it for 1 reason only, they don’t want them to do to their neighborhood what they did to ours. Yet they claim they are only doing this in looking out for the residents well being. I see (as expected) another appeal was made which will prevent their move which was supposed to be on Monday. Exactly what we all expected to happen. The only ones getting anything out of all this are the lawyers who continue to get paid as this never-ending saga drags on.
“The people downtown fighting to keep them at the Lucerne are doing it for 1 reason only, they don’t want them to do to their neighborhood what they did to ours. Yet they claim they are only doing this in looking out for the residents well being.”
Exactly the same false claim being used by the UWSers kicking them out.
Who exactly does this make the UWS look bad to? Do you realize these men were moved from Hells Kitchen, and the mere thought of moving them downtown immediately caused another group to form and protest it….this argument that it is a black eye for the UWS to not want these men housed in an inadequate facility really is nonsense. I assure you any neighborhood would have serious hesitation to house a group of
MICA men. Let alone 700! As for those poloticians who advocate loudest against the move, why dont you look and see how close to the Lucerne they live…heres a hint, its not close at all!
Please stop using the argument that because the UWS votes liberal, we should not care to defend a quality of life. The UWS supports plenty if shelters, and has never complained, please stop this cry that “we look bad”.
“As for the number in favor of them staying, that is miniscule. Someone please do a real survey or we will constantly have to hear those claims.”
Yes, please. By a group with no political axe to grind (if such a thing exists).
I almost never see the perspective of staff in local stores represented. This year they’ve had to deal with a dramatic increase in people with little-to-no disposable income loitering in and around their shops, some mentally-ill, some pan-handling.
Many of these store staff commute to their UWS jobs through shutdowns and decreased business. I have overheard comments suggesting their sympathy for the local homeless is wearing very thin.
I hope the Radisson move is the last the residents have to endure, and that the working homeless will thrive in their jobs. They’ll have much more power over their lives when they can pay their own way and local government no longer has any say in where they live.