Homeless Individuals to Question 10 Mayoral Candidates at Thursday Forum

Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley at a rally at The Lucerne last year. Da Homeless Hero, left.

By Carol Tannenhauser

On Thursday, February 4th at 5:30 p.m. on Zoom, individuals experiencing homelessness will question 10 mayoral candidates about their approach to this critical issue in a “first-of-a-kind” mayoral forum on homelessness. The forum was organized by the leaders of the effort to keep the men temporarily housed in The Lucerne hotel on 79th Street in place: Da Homeless Hero, a resident of the hotel, and UWS Open Hearts Initiative, a local group of supporters.

Mayoral candidates have already been attending rallies at the hotel, and several have criticized Mayor de Blasio’s decision to move the men to another hotel downtown — a move that has since been delayed by the courts.

The candidates who will be present are: Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Carlos Menchaca, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Joycelyn Taylor, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang.

To sign up for the forum, go here.

NEWS | 39 comments | permalink
    1. Bob Lamm says:

      Wonderful that this is happening, that individuals who are homeless will be heard and will have the opportunity to question mayoral candidates.


      It is a moral outrage to have these homeless men lodged in the Lucerne Hotel. They deserve better. And so does this neighborhood! A permanent home for them needs to be made!

      • Jane says:

        3 free meals a day and lodging in a luxury boutique hotel. They deserve something BETTER than that??

    3. Crankypants says:

      More election pandering. 🙄

    4. anon says:

      I’ll never understand wearing the facemask under your nose.

      • FedUpPedestrian says:

        I was thinking the same thing! I think a prerequisite for running for mayor, should be knowing how to wear a mask properly.

      • Confused/Amused says:

        From the picture with the lady wearing her mask inappropriately to the use of homelessness as a tool to link to product endorsement – just ugh. Hang in there everyone!

    5. Leon says:

      I appreciate the candidates being responsive and discussing this important topic. Hopefully there will be a variety of ideas and potential solutions.

      I hate to be too cynical (but I do live on the UWS…), but shouldn’t Da Homeless Hero be spending his time actually looking for a job so he can no longer be homeless, rather than organizing mayoral forums? He can be a community organizer on his own dime, not on the tens of thousands of taxpayer dimes paying for his room at the Lucerne.

      • Frank Grimes says:

        I agree. If I were to pick a spokesperson to represent a group of homeless, I would rather an individual who worked his way out of homelessness through programs and opportunities provided to them. There are many examples of those who have used the homeless shelter system as a crutch to get them through a tough period in their lives. There are others who spend their lives in the system and consider it a permanent way of life. Surely the prior would be a better candidate to speak on behalf of these gentlemen, and provide examples of what worked for them.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        response to Leon and Frank:

        You’re not being cynical. You ARE being demeaning.

        You know nothing about Da Homeless Hero’s (DHH’s) life, but yet you feel it appropriate to tell him (and the rest of us) how he should be spending his time. Maybe it’s his life experiences that make him a powerful political voice.

        We have plenty of millionaires and billionaires expressing political views. It’s actually refreshing to have a homeless person speaking out.

        Btw, how do you know DHH DOESN’T hold a job? Up to 25% of the current citywide homeless population hold jobs, including men in the Lucerne. Maybe Leon should get a little more “woke” about the homeless situation.

        • Leon says:

          Pretend you are the busperson at Nice Matin. How would you feel if you were commuting over an hour to work for minimum wage so that you can be a contributing member of society and pay your own rent while DHH is parading around as the darling of the Woke crew while living on the taxpayer’s dime?

          The goal of the homeless system is to help those who truly need help and provide adequate (not luxury nor wretched) services to as many as possible. It is also to get them out of the system as quickly as possible.

          • World Peacenik says:

            I don’t think that any buspersons working at Nice Matin are that judgmental and demeaning.

            From what I see here, it takes a pretty comfortable financial situation to make someone that inhuman.

        • Jen W. says:

          I hope that post makes you feel really good about yourself. You are such a good, woke human. The comment above is not demeaning, Da Homeless Hero is a grown up and can clearly take care of himself. There are plenty of jobs out there (not necessarily in NYC, but hey, he doesn’t have a home so can move…like the rest of NYers have been doing). He is grifting the city and our neighborhood. He is taking resources from others who also need help. Full stop. This is a circus. Homeless individuals need support but the right support, and this is not it.

        • Da Homeless Hero says:

          I won’t even dignify these people with an answer.

          • blacklikeu says:

            You just did DHH.
            And – for the effort that UWSiders have done to help the homeless, it may be a good idea if indeed you will answer the readers and tell your side.
            Most are pulling for you & your friends, so don’t be so aloof.

            • World Peacenik says:

              Your advice is well-intentioned, but I don’t, for a second, believe that these people are” pulling for Da Homeless Hero & your his friends”.

              These are nasty and judgmental; allowed to act this way because they are so entitled.

              Let’s start with this one: Here’s a commenter who thinks he can just assume the worst of Da Homeless Hero: “shouldn’t Da Homeless Hero be spending his time actually looking for a job so he can no longer be homeless, rather than organizing mayoral forums? He can be a community organizer on his own dime, not on the tens of thousands of taxpayer dimes paying for his room at the Lucerne.”

              This comment is shameful, dehumanizing and just plain nasty. I agree that the writer doesn’t merit a response. He needs some humanity instead.

              Then there’s this: “There are others who spend their lives in the system and consider it a permanent way of life.” How dare this commenter! It sickens me, as it would any decent person. What insults. That the commenter feels so entitled that he can demean someone with impunity says more about him that the insult he hurls at Da Homeless Hero. Not to be dignified with a response. Other than “Get a Life and some humanity”.

              Now to the third sickening comment: “He is grifting the city and our neighborhood. He is taking resources from others who also need help. Full stop. This is a circus.”

              This is a sickening thing to say. To write on a public forum.

              You three commenters debase yourselves with your words. And I do hope Da Homeless Hero does not dignify your comments with a response. These comments are in the gutter and should stay there.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        PS If DHH actually did organize this forum as a one man band, i would think one of the Mayoral campaigns might want to hire him as an organizer ASAP. The guy is obviously very effective. There should be a bidding war for his services!

    6. Hane says:

      The problem is the financial system which isn’t supporting the working class who are quickly becoming the homeless class. You can bandage all you want with hotels for homeless, but that’s not the solution. Not that I know what is at the city level since the mess goes all the way up to the Federal level where they create trillions of dollars and give it to the ultra rich to buy more stocks while we suffer. And our landlords suffer. Wallstreetbets at least is trying to bring awareness to our corrupt system.

      • Peter says:

        Nice way to conflate ten recent news topics into an incomprehensible jumble that has virtually nothing to do with the problem at hand.

        Wallstreetbets – really? You mean, a bunch of 22-yr-olds now sitting on $300/share losses in a virtually defunct business? Would love to understand what “corruption” was exposed by this.

      • Otis says:

        Do you honestly believe the people living on the streets of NYC are all responsible and hard working people who are homeless only because Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are billionaires?

        • World Peacenik says:

          No. A major cause of homelessness is Gentrification. Those people with money displaced residents without.

          Kicking people to the curb was done by many here on the UWS. They would prefer to blame those that they kicked.

    7. JS says:

      Are homeless families – parents and children- included here?

      To repeat, there are hundreds being housed in midtown hotels, completely inappropriate for children and babies.
      In fact, a baby recently died in a midtown hotel.

      (There are more homeless families throughout NYC)

      Families should be in residential areas near schools, parks, medical, grocery stores etc.
      Do not understand why Open Hearts is not interested in helping families

    8. Kath says:

      Thanks for organizing this issue of importance to all new Yorkers.

    9. CS says:

      Yes, once again we have people who are seeking political office advocating for the homeless living at the Lucerne. Why do we, the tax payers have to pay exorbitant prices for them to stay in a luxury hotel?! As I type this I can see (for the second time this week and it’s only Wednesday) an ambulance parked there along with a police car!!!!

    10. 50yrresident says:

      Of course we all want to end homelessness. Since this event is taking place, I wonder if any of the politicians will do more than listen and seem to understand the sruggles of this population. I wonder if they will have the courage to stand up and comment to what the residents of the majority of residents at the Lucerne require and that are not being adaquately provided for them at this hotel. i wonder of any of the issues have been persistently raised by the community (safety, panhandling, public lewdness, etc.) will be
      On another note, I am curious if there was or is there an ongoing investigation into the damage and horrendous graffiti on Randy Maestro’s home.

    11. Susan says:

      I will vote for the candidate that gets them out of our neighborhood.

      • MiddleClassTaxpayer says:

        I think most uwsers will vote like susan. We are pretty sick of being a dumping ground for shelters.

      • Juan says:

        I agree. I am sad to see several seemingly promising candidates participating in this forum. Because I doubt that a candidate will attend and not tell the Open Hearts group exactly what they want to hear. Which is quite different from what so many of us want to hear.

        I think they believe that those are troubled by the Lucerne are all Republicans so they don’t need our votes, but that is definitely not the case. A moderate, practical, fiscally disciplined but caring Democrat could build a large coalition. Are they out there?

    12. LYJ says:

      @ least we now know to whom we shouldn’t vote. The last thing NYC needs is yet another amateur community organizers/ bottom league local politicians/ or city bureaucrats. They will just waste all our tax money on esoteric useless “ publicity” projects in support of a few groups on the account of the ever diminishing hard working middle class. NYC needs a Bloomberg type of leadership with proven record. We need much more equal distribution of the resources to benefit all residents, instead of a few.

    13. Michael Palmer says:

      Homelessness is a National Problem. You don’t see homeless people in Suburbia or in Rural Areas. CITIES need Federal Support to aid the Homeless. New York City is not the only City that has seen a rise in Homelessness. Let’s petition Senators and Congress Now.

    14. David Gordon says:

      The homeless residents of the Lucerne Hotel are wards of the state. They should be thankful that society is spending time and effort to keep them from living in the street. I hope they preface their questions that night we thanks to citizens of New York City and New York State.

    15. Marti says:

      We need any landlord that controls a building with twenty or more units to have five percent of those units allocated to homeless or decarcerated people. Certainly some of our empty restaurants can be converted to feeding stations or coops to provide healthy nutrition. Others can be converted to internet access points so they can be retrained for non carbon producing jobs. We also need to ensure these folks get and cash their stimulus checks.

    16. Bruce Bernstein says:

      the forum was excellent, chaired by a co-founder of Open Hearts, who was deeply informed on homeless and affordable housing issues. DHH asked questions and follow ups and offered commentary; other homeless persons asked videotaped questions.

      i can’t help noticing the vast gulf between the policy-based and intelligent discussion offered by Open Hearts, DHH, and all of the candidates, on the one hand, and the angry NIMBYism and anti-homeless rhetoric on display by many commenters above.

      • LYJ says:

        No one is anti-homeless. We all feel sympathy and sorry for their situation. However, all residents and other less fortunate groups deserve at least the same extent of consideration, help and support. It is immoral and discriminatory to divert public resources in such a wasteful manner to a single group, leaving all the rest of us behind. We struggle to pay rent, bills and work two shifts and weekends to put food on the table for our kids. Do we receive any support?

    17. b says:

      Barely touched on what to do with mentally ill who are homeless and a threat to others or drug addicts who are homeless. People who have no home need permanent housing. The others need help and constant supervision in a controlled setting, and to be kept off the street until they pose no threat to society.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        reply to b:

        i agree with you that the issue of the severely mentally ill, which is a problem with at least some of the street homeless, wasn’t brought up. However, let’s recall the forum was aimed at the homeless themselves, so they might have a higher level of understanding and different concerns. One example were the long and specific discussions of the NYPD “Dispersion” squads, which apparently deal with street honeless and i did not know existed.

        • lynn says:

          I’ve seen the dispersion squads in action and they’re really of no use, because once a homeless encampment is packed up it gets moved to the other end of the block, or around the corner, and back again. That’s not a solution. Where did all of the homeless people (and pets) on 72nd and Broadway disappear to this week? If the city was able to provide shelter and food for them during the snow storm then why isn’t it available on a daily basis?

    18. Anna says:

      I missed the presentation. I would like to see it. Is there a link?

    19. BHL_Westsider says:

      I love, love love it! So special to give these residents an opportunity to really connect.
      Hooray for the homeless!!!