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Hundreds of homeless men will leave UWS hotel, but where they're headed brings new challenges

Posted at 11:35 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 23:35:19-04

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — New York City has a legal obligation to house the homeless, but all too often, stability is not part of the deal.

Andrew is one of nearly 300 homeless men currently placed by the city’s Department of Homeless Services at the Lucerne Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Generally speaking, these men did not receive a warm welcome in one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, and a noticeable spike in resident complaints about crime and quality of life issues did not help matters.

Even one of the NYPD’s own chaplains recently reported being mugged by a homeless man during his morning in the neighborhood.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has apparently seen enough, and is having the Lucerne Hotel’s homeless men transferred to another facility.

For Andrew, it means another move.

"I just got here on Saturday," he said. "I'm disappointed in the system because of the way they keep shuffling us around like chess pieces."

The mayor denied Wednesday that he caved to pressure from Upper West Side residents.

"This is the beginning of a larger effort to come back from these hotels," he said," get back into our traditional shelter system, continue moving people who are homeless to permanent affordable housing. It was a temporary measure, and now it's time to start going back to what we had before."

But “going back to what we had before” is not as simple as it sounds.

That’s because the nearly 300 homeless men from the Upper West Side are being moved into a family shelter downtown, in Chelsea; and the frustrated homeless families currently staying there, like Rosa Pares' family, have been told they are being moved as well — but they have not been told where.

"It's not fair to me. You're throwing me all over the place," she said. "I just came here to get help."

Manhattan Borough President Gayle Brewer said the de Blasio Administration’s Upper West Side homeless plan was badly executed.

"It was too many men in one location with no plan, no outdoor space," she said.

And now, so is it’s plan to fix it.

"I would not be moving the adult families from a situation in which they are thriving."