Lucerne Hotel Residents Heading Downtown

The temporarily homeless residents of The Lucerne Hotel will now begin to relocate, and are expected to be moved out by October 5th. They’ll be moving to a site in the Financial District, rather than the Harmonia shelter in Midtown, where they were originally expected to be placed.

Residents of the Harmonia will no longer have to move, and Council Member Keith Powers states that those who were moved before the temporary pause will get to return, Patch reports.

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In a press release, The Legal Aid Society stated “we have received assurances that the men living at the Lucerne Hotel will be placed in safe shelter settings, with the City continuing to fully accommodate their specific needs, which will allow them to socially distance and easily access critical healthcare services.” Read their full press release here.

The following statements have also been released by UWS Open Hearts and the West Side Community Organization.

Corinne Low, co-founder of UWS Open Hearts (who is not happy about this news):

“We are so proud of the shelter residents who bravely stood up to the city and through their advocacy reversed the terrible decision to close the Harmonia. But we are beyond devastated that the Mayor is persisting in displacing the men at the Lucerne, this time to a vacant hotel downtown.

“What does this accomplish? If there is a vacant socially distanced site available, shouldn’t it be used to house those still in congregate settings on Ward’s island? The Mayor’s decision is the pinnacle of cowardliness. The Mayor has made a full transformation from so-called progressive Park Slope dad to Upper East Sider, siding with his neighbor Randy Mastro against the most vulnerable people of the city, people he ran claiming to represent.

“The only thing that is accomplished through this move is further trauma. Project Renewal will need to reboot again in this new hotel location. How can they better serve their clients in a hotel site downtown than they can in one on the UWS? The answer is they can’t. This whole nonsense about services is a facade to cover for simple selfishness. If Randy Mastro’s clients actually cared one iota about the people involved, they would not want to put them through a traumatizing move, that will disrupt their care and put them at risk of relapse.

“We have built transformative community bonds with the shelter residents at The Lucerne. They have told us they feel embraced and supported by their community in a way they have never previously experienced. Why has the Mayor made it his singular mission to destroy this? Doesn’t he have better things to do? Couldn’t he be improving lives, instead of disrupting them?  This move is supposed to happen October 5th – the Mayor has 10 days to decide if this is what he wants his legacy to be.

“We will be holding a press conference at 1pm Sunday at the Lucerne, before continuing to serve our neighbors at our Free Store event at 2pm at The Belleclaire.”

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Randy Mastro, attorney for the West Side Community Organization (who is happy about this news):

“From the beginning, I understood and believed the City Administration would do the right thing and move this vulnerable population out of the Lucerne Hotel and into a proper shelter where they will receive the services they need. And today, the City Administration has done just that, confirming it will be moving folks out of this SRO hotel and into a proper shelter over the next 10 days in close proximity to the services they need and deserve. This is a win-win for all parties and something everyone who truly cares about the homeless should be supporting.

“The City is also following the recommendations of its own 2017 Turning the Tide on Homelessness report “to finally end the broken system that for too many years relied on . . . commercial hotels” for a variety of reasons, including “not having adequate space for onsite social services.”  It’s high time the City recognized that what was supposed to be “temporary” now needs to change, thanks to improving health outcomes, because this vulnerable population requires housing in proper shelters with needed services.

“To his credit, Mayor de Blasio has honored his commitment and kept his word. And in the process, he has recognized two fundamental truths: SRO hotels are not where we should be housing the homeless. And what has been happening on the Upper West Side as a result of housing so many homeless adults in three SRO hotels in such close proximity is simply “not acceptable.” So, today’s announcement is a major step forward in doing right by this neighborhood and this vulnerable population. But there is still much more work to be done. We look forward to continuing our constructive dialogue with the City Administration, we appreciate today’s developments and look forward to even more progress in the weeks and months ahead.”

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