NEW YORK - A state appeals court has given about 200 homeless men who live in the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side another temporary reprieve.
In a decision on Tuesday, the court said the men could stay on the Upper West Side as the case makes its way through the appeals process. That means the men will likely remain at the Lucerne Hotel for another few months. They have been there since July.
This is just the latest chapter of an ongoing saga for this homeless shelter, which has sparked controversy and even become an issue in the race for mayor.
Hundreds of men experiencing homelessness were relocated to the Upper West Side hotel last summer so they could socially distance during the pandemic. Soon after, some residents in the neighborhood claimed their quality of life was deteriorating and threatened to sue unless the city moved the men somewhere else. The mayor acquiesced and promised to move the men to a Radisson Hotel in Lower Manhattan.
But the controversy did not end there. Residents in Lower Manhattan sued to try to block the move. Men from the Lucerne sued too. In November, a lower court judge sided with the city, allowing the relocation to Lower Manhattan to move forward. Tuesday’s decision puts that relocation on hold for at least the winter.
While the court said the men could stay for now, it did say the city could relocate some from the Upper West Side if they "voluntarily choose to be moved.”
In response to Tuesday’s decision a spokesperson for the city’s Law Department sent NY1 this statement:
"The City has a moral and legal obligation to provide safe shelter to all who need it. 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.”
Advocates considered it a victory.
In a statement, Michael Hiller, the attorney for several men from the Lucerne said, "Today, the Appellate Court ruled that, not only can the men of the Lucerne remain there, at least pending the appeal, but further, those who want to leave may also do so. In this way, today’s decision, though temporary, is truly empowering to homeless residents who are fighting for their right to be heard and ultimately, for their dignity."