Hundreds Of Homeless Can Remain At Upper West Side Hotel For Now

UPPER WEST SIDE, NY — The plight of hundreds of homeless men currently being housed at The Lucerne remains fluid after a judge on Monday sided with three hotel residents and temporarily blocked an effort by Mayor Bill de Blasio to move the men to another location in Lower Manhattan.

The city was scheduled to start transferring 235 men to the site of a former Radisson hotel Monday morning before Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Debra James found in favor of three of the men, who filed a lawsuit against de Blasio and Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks last week blocking the move , the New York Post reported.

The men — Larry Thomas, Ramone Buford and Travis Trammell — filed the suit, saying that forcing them to be moved from The Lucerne to the Lower Manhattan location on William Street would cause “massive psychological damage”. James’ decision came less than a week after she ruled against a group of Lower Manhattan residents that were attempting to keep the Lucerne residents from being moved to their neighborhood.

James’ decision allows the homeless men to remain at The Lucerne until the mater is again heard in court.

Despite the halt in Monday’s scheduled moved, a de Blasio spokesman said that the city still plans to prevail in its plans and said lawyers representing the city would appear in court to continue ahead with the plans to move the homeless out of The Lucerne.

“In the meantime, we will continue our efforts to best support all New Yorkers currently experiencing homelessness,” spokesman Bill Neidhardt said Monday, The Post reported.

The continued battle comes more than two months after de Blasio announced plans in September to move the hundreds of men out of The Lucerne property. In August, Patch reported that 311 complaints surged in the Upper West Side after the homeless men were moved into The Lucerne on July 27.

The hotel, which sits on West 79th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, is one of three hotels in the area that is currently receiving homeless clients as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Between the three hotels, more than 500 homeless people are being sheltered in the neighborhood, which has drawn the ire of Upper West Side residents who complain that of the activity that takes place outside of The Lucerne by homeless people being sheltered at the hotel.

The Lucerne residents counter with saying they depend on the social services and medical assistance they receive by staying at the hotel.

In the lawsuit, Buford said that he represents a group of homeless men who the 51-year-old former musician said would not be welcome in the Financial District, The Post reported. The affidavit said that with the exception of the Upper West Side neighbors who have threatened to sue the city over the presence of the homeless being sheltered at The Lucerne, most people have been friendly.

“One of the traumas of being homeless is being un-welcomed,” he said in the paperwork filed with the court Sunday, according to The Post. “People avoid us on the street, make faces at us on the subways, and try not to make eye contact… The refusal to engage us contributes to alcohol dependency, substance abuse and mental illness in the homeless population.”

“Subjecting us to a community that detests us enough to institute litigation to keep us away would threaten to take us backwards and resign us to years, if not decades, of decline.”

If forced to leave The Lucerne, Buford wrote that he would likely refuse to make the move to Lower Manhattan and chose instead to return living on the streets.

Attorneys for the three men said they are uncertain when the next hearing will take place but told reporters allowing the group to stay put is the best decision for them.

“They’ve been moved around so many times. It’s very traumatizing,” lawyer Jason Zakai told reporters Monday. “Psychologically, it brings them a lot of instability — going from place to place. They were thriving here, and they didn’t know what would await them if they (went) downtown to a totally new place.”

This article originally appeared on the Upper West Side Patch

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