Ahead of World Homeless Day, Downtown Group Vows to Raise 1M to Fight Relocation of Lucerne Shelter Residents

UWS Open Hearts pens op-ed in the Nation: "RIP to de Blasio's 'Progressive' Legacy"

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NEW YORK, NY (10/09/2020) (readMedia)-- Ahead of World Homeless Day (October 10th), a downtown group has formed to fight the entry of Lucerne shelter residents into their neighborhood, announcing they intend to raise nearly $1 million to do so. The move comes after the mayor capitulated to the West Side Community Organization, who raised $150,000 to hire Randy Mastro and get the men housed at the Lucerne kicked out of the Upper West Side.

Corinne Low, co-founder of UWS Open Hearts Initiative issued the follow statement in response to a meeting last night with Community Board 1, where the Radisson is located:

"On the CB1 call Thursday night, we again heard zero substantive justification from either DHS or the Mayor's office for the move of Lucerne residents from one commercial hotel to another, in the middle of a pandemic. Lucerne shelter residents, Project Renewal, and our organization have shared the extensive steps that have been taken to integrate the temporary Lucerne shelter into the community and allow shelter residents to thrive. The genesis for this move is nothing other than the Mayor caving to complaints from a few vocal, privileged residents who wanted to say no to homeless housing in their backyard. As we've seen based on the news that FiDi residents have formed their own facebook group and are hiring their own lawyer, this sets a terrible precedent that homeless policy can be driven by the loudest voices and best lawyers, rather than the needs of the impacted population. Mayor de Blasio ran for office saying he would stand up for the vulnerable, and instead we see him emboldening moneyed special interests, creating a game of NIMBY whack-a-mole with the lives of real people experiencing homelessness as its victims."

Clients of Project Renewal were placed at the Lucerne in late July, after being transferred from another hotel in Midtown following community objections. The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) uses temporary hotel shelters to stop the spread of COVID-19 in congregate shelters. Unfortunately, Mayor de Blasio caved to backlash from wealthy members of the Upper West Side who started a racist Facebook group, and agreed to transfer the men to yet another hotel.

In response, Corinne Low, co-founder of the UWS Open Hearts Initiative, and Shams DaBaron, a Lucerne shelter resident, penned an op-ed in the Nation. The piece argues that Mayor de Blasio's decision to cave to pressure from overwhelmingly white families and move hundreds of homeless men of color from their temporary shelter will destroy his progressive legacy, and the community model Open Hearts and shelter residents have built.


"The mayor seeks to undo all of this, not caring about the human toll his callousness will take, and completely abandoning his campaign promises to build a city that works for all New Yorkers. Forcing the displacement of traumatized Black men (the third-and for some a fourth-such move since the pandemic began) to preserve white comfort is not just an abdication of the city's responsibility to care for those in need; it is a re-victimization of these most vulnerable New Yorkers.

UWS Open Hearts also sent a letter (attached) to West Side Community Organization challenging the group to live up to their claims that they care about shelter residents by halting their push for displacement, and instead joining in conversation with shelter residents about how to co-exist.