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.