Advocates for the homeless celebrated outside the Lucerne Hotel Monday, after a judge temporarily stopped the city from moving the 235 homeless people who had been living there.
A bus was waiting to take them.
"I'm shocked. I'm basically shocked," said Lucerne resident Larry Thomas. "I’m numb right now. We won."
"We are thrilled," said lawyer Jason Zakai, who represents Lucerne residents. "They are overjoyed. They get to stay here for at least another few weeks. It's a great result."
Thomas is one of many homeless men who say their lives have improved living at the Lucerne.
"Some of the residents here, they can relax now,” he said.
The Lucerne is one of the hotels to which Mayor de Blasio moved homeless residents during the pandemic to protect them from the spread of COVID-19 in group-style shelters.
But the move set off a firestorm in the area after some area residents objected to having homeless men living in their neighborhood, claiming some of them were committing crimes, using drugs on the street and detracting from the overall quality of life.
“Sad that they’re still here," an Upper West Side resident told NY1 when she heard the news. “Stolen packages, stuff happening on the street, the drunkeness, the drugs. It's just terrible."
The mayor in September appeared to cave to community opposition after opponents threatened to take the city to court, and ultimately decided to move the men to a Radisson Hotel in Lower Manhattan starting on Monday.
Sunday, three of the homeless residents sued the city, claiming irreparable harm if they were moved from social and employment programs, and if forced to enter the Radisson through a bar, the only available entrance because many are recovering addicts.
Mark Varma said he has been sober two years and doesn’t want to go.
“We want to stay here. We have nowhere to go and I have a broken leg. I can’t walk. I don’t have a job. I don’t have nothing and I have no where to go,” he said.
Some area residents rallied Monday with advocates and politicians outside the Lucerne.
“They are as entitled to be a part of this community as anyone else,” said Melissa Sanchez of the Upper West Side Open Hearts Leadership Committee.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic for God sake," said Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman. "Why are you, Mr. Mayor, considering moving people like they are chess pieces, when we should concerned about the public health.
Some said this is the fifth shelter location they’ve lived in since the pandemic erupted.
“I don’t know what they want us to go outside to do. Get sick and die? They don’t have feelings. They don’t have nothing for us," said Varma.
In a statement, the city said it “will continue to pursue the move to the new location that is closer to medical care and has more space for on-site services.”
At this point, it seems the earliest that could happen would be after the next court date on November 16.