NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – A City Council member is criticizing City Hall’s decision to move hundreds of homeless people out of an Upper West Side hotel, saying it will create a domino effect at other shelters across the boroughs.
The city moved people out of the Lucerne on 79th Street and Amsterdam for no reason other than people complaining, said City Councilman Stephen Levin, who chairs the Council’s Committee on General Welfare, which oversees the Department of Homeless Services.
“This is all to accommodate some people on the Upper West Side who have raised objections to the siting of a hotel that has happened in many neighborhoods across the city,” Levin said.
People leaving the Lucerne will be brought to a shelter in Long Island City and the women there will be brought to a shelter in Flatlands, Brooklyn, currently housing women and children, Levin said.
“The city wants to relocate them into a shelter that's being used by adult families and single adult women, so then those people have to be relocated. And I think the adult women are scheduled to be relocated to the shelter in Flatlands, which then would displace families who are in Flatlands with children,” he said.
It’s all happening a week before school starts. Levin said that up until this point the city Department of Homeless Services had been doing a good job for the most part in keeping COVID out of the homeless population by moving people out of shelters and into hotels.
“They moved like 13,000 people out of congregate shelter in April, May and June into hotels around the city—these are empty hotels,” Levin said.
He said there are one of two simple solutions: move people back to the Lucerne or move them to an empty hotel to avoid the domino effect at other shelters.
Meanwhile, activists marched from the Lucerne to Gracie Mansion on Sunday as they called for Mayor Bill de Blasio to reverse his decision to move homeless residents out of the hotel.
"Please be advised that you will be transferred from Gracie Mansion to a homeless shelter," one man said over a loudspeaker.
A lot of those housed in homeless shelters across the city are getting a notice of transfer themselves, a shuffle needed in the wake of the mayor’s decision to move homeless residents out of the Lucerne. A man who goes by the “Homeless Hero” was one of them.
“I felt traumatized at being dehumanized, moved around like pawns on a chessboard,” he said.
His message to the mayor was to listen to all New Yorkers, rich and poor.
“I ask that you give us the opportunity to show that despite our being homeless, we can do the right thing,” he said.
The mayor has maintained that a drop in the homeless population has allowed those in the Lucerne to be sent to other shelters.