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Lucerne Hotel residents allowed to remain on Upper West Side for now, court rules

Neighbors of the Lucerne Hotel and from Vocal New York showed their support for the homeless living at the Lucerne despite the mayor seeking to move them to another hotel in downtown Manhattan. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The men living in the Upper West Side’s Lucerne Hotel will not be forced to leave the homeless shelter after a New York state Appellate Court decision issued Tuesday granted them an interim stay for the remainder of their appeal process.  

The decision means that the 200 residents can stay possibly for six months at the shelter, blocking a city order to move them to relocate them to the Radisson Hotel in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District. The city is, however, permitted to relocate those residents who seek to relocate voluntarily. 

The stay is valid “on condition the appeal is perfected” for the Appellate Court’s May 2021 term.

Residents had been placed in the Lucerne to socially distance during the pandemic but neighboring residents, claiming residents were hurting their quality of life, soon called on the city to move the men to another shelter. 

The city had sought to close the homeless shelter at the Lucerne Hotel and relocate all residents to the Radisson Hotel, after receiving myriad complaints from Upper West Side neighbors about conditions at the hotel. Opponents claimed it was inadequate to support the needs of the residents, many of whom were said to suffer from addiction and mental health issues.

Even so, the Lucerne shelter residents had gained the support of many Upper West Side residents who rallied to their defense. Some have decried the opposition as a case of NIMBYism, claiming shelter opponents simply did not want homeless residents in the area.

On Nov. 25, state Supreme Court Judge Debra James ruled in the city’s favor, but an appeal was filed by the coalition group Downtown New Yorkers, which opposes the relocation.

In a statement Tuesday, the New York City Law Department expressed optimism that the stay will not eventually lead to a complete derailment of their relocation plan.

“The City has a moral and legal obligation to provide safe shelter to all who need it,” the statement indicated. The Radisson is better suited to meet the needs of these residents. When all the merits are heard, we believe the court will ultimately agree that this move is an appropriate use of the mayor’s emergency powers.”

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