A planned move of homeless men from the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side to another hotel in the Financial District will proceed after a state Supreme Court judge declined to block the move.
Downtown New Yorkers, Inc. filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court arguing that the city was moving the Lucerne residents to the Radisson Hotel on William Street to “cover up for their public relations disasters.”
The lawsuit argued the de Blasio administration is not permitted to proceed with the transfer because of an expired contract between the Department of Homeless Services and the Hotel Association of New York City to operate the facilities — which were converted from hotels to shelters for homeless residents to allow for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also sought a temporary restraining order on the impending move.
In response, the office of the city’s Corporation Counsel said the Radisson has already been operating as an emergency homeless shelter since the pandemic began in March. It’s also served “as an isolation hotel for those who had tested positive for COVID-19, where hospitalization was not required, and subsequently as a quarantine site for individuals suspected of having COVID-19.” The Radisson offers more space for the men to safely be indoors and engaged in social activities, considered critical factors as the temperatures drop, city officials said.
State Supreme Court justice Debra James denied the request for the temporary restraining order and set a date of November 16th for opening arguments on the lawsuit.
The move to the Radisson Hotel on William Street next week comes after the men would be relocated from the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side to the Radisson Hotel on William Street in FiDi
The move to the Radisson Hotel on William Street in FiDi next week comes following weeks of acrimony from legal threats by UWS neighborhood groups that also wished death upon them on their Facebook page. Before the FiDi move, the city had considered moving the residents to the Harmonia shelter in Midtown—which would have displaced other families. Throughout the process, Mayor Bill de Blasio has been widely criticized for treating residents at the Lucerne, operated by Project Renewal, like board game pieces.
Downtown New Yorkers posted on its website a statement from its representative Christopher Brown saying “it would be unconscionable for the City to move the men into 52 William Street knowing that they might be forced to move again in several weeks. The neighborhood is committed to its ongoing legal strategy on this matter.”
Meanwhile, the group of Upper West Siders who opposed the men living at the Lucerne and formed the nonprofit called the West Side Community Organization, released a statement through their PR firm Saturday hailing the upcoming move.
“The West Side Community Organization was pleased to learn that the Court has rejected efforts to prevent the relocation of the vulnerable population currently housed at the Lucerne to a location that is better equipped to serve their needs,” read the statement. “These individuals will benefit from increased on-site healthcare and counseling services, while being significantly closer to their shelter of origin and the medical and substance abuse services offered there. We are grateful that this decision allows the City to continue its efforts to provide much-needed support for our homeless neighbors while working to ensure that each community accommodates those in need. This ruling will enable the residents to receive critical care while the City works towards ending the use of temporary shelter facilities as soon as possible.”