Judge Debra James has now announced that the homeless men who’ve been temporarily residing at the Lucerne Hotel since late July will in fact be moving to the Radisson Hotel at 52 William Street in the Financial District. The exact timing of this move is not yet clear.
The move downtown was initially expected to take place in early October, but once it was announced, a group of downtown residents formed a Facebook group in protest, and the same judge filed a temporary restraining order to postpone the move and to schedule a later court date to determine the future living arrangements of these men.
Before 52 William Street was publicly mentioned as a relocation option, the Lucerne residents were expected to move to other alternate shelters, but that announcement quickly lead to protests and threats of lawsuits, as well as the first temporary pause.
Members of the West Side Community Organization, lead by attorney Randy Mastro, have been the primary advocates for the relocation of these men since they arrived. A spokesperson for the group sent us a statement saying that “[the group] today applauds the Manhattan Supreme Court’s decision to allow the City to proceed with its plan to move the residents at the Lucerne Hotel to a better, safer, and more comprehensive facility in FiDi (52 William Street) that offers individual rooms, on-site medical and addiction services, recreational space, and job training/placement programs.”
The group’s statement also mentioned three deaths which have taken place at the hotel since the men arrived, noting that “Project Renewal [the organization which has overseen the site] has made no statements about the death or whether it might be Covid-related.”
On the other end of the months-long feud have been members of UWS Open Hearts Initiative, who have fought to keep the temporary homeless residents here at the 79th Street hotel. They’ve released a statement written by a resident of the Lucerne who goes by “Da Homeless Hero,” which reads [in part] that “… even though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted in court, by fighting and speaking out against this inhumanity, we have already won. Because we fought, we have maintained our dignity, to tell the city that while they may be able to move our bodies on a whim they cannot silence our voices. Because we fought, residents are better served with on site services, and we have generated a shelter model that works better for residents and the community. Because we fought, 30 of us have moved into permanent housing – the city figuring that was the only way to keep us quiet.”
He also stated that he and UWS Open Hearts “… exposed the Mayor, the City, Randy Mastro and his clients as utter liars,” and that “they care very little for us experiencing homelessness and more about their agendas.” His full statement can be read here.
The full ruling from Judge Debra James can be viewed here.