For several hours on Monday and Tuesday, five attorneys sat in front of a Manhattan Supreme Court judge on Zoom arguing over the fate of more than 200 homeless men.
For months, the Upper West Side and Lower Manhattan have been clashing over who would take them. The men originally moved to the Lucerne Hotel in July — and immediately created a stir uptown. Residents complained their quality of life was deteriorating. Some said they saw drug deals, public urination and more.
So the mayor said the men would be moved to a hotel downtown.
Of course, that decision created controversy there.
Now, they are all in court. The city is arguing for the men to move. The residents of Lower Manhattan are arguing for the men to stay. A lawyer for Upper West Side residents said they should go. An attorney representing three men from the shelter said let them stay.
“This case is going to decide how the city deals with homeless policy and housing policy in the future,” said Michael Hiller, the attorney representing the homeless men. "Are we going to warehouse homeless people, homeless individuals? Or are we gong to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Are we going to take care of each other? Or are we going to allow wealthy and well-connected communities to forcibly relocate men to other areas?”
Lawyers for the city argue these men will have more space in the hotel downtown — the Raddison on William Street. They argue as the weather gets colder, 1,000 feet of indoor recreation space at the hotel will be crucial. There is no such space at the Lucerne. An attorney for the city also promised the men jobs if they move downtown. Some of them work in the community on the Upper West Side.
Despite the hours of argument on Tuesday, there was no decision from the court.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Debra James said she would issue her decision next Monday by 5 p.m. just in time for Thanksgiving.