BREAKING: Judge Sides With the City, Forces Men to Leave the Lucerne for Downtown

NEW YORK, NY (11/25/2020) (readMedia)-- Judge Debra James today denied shelter residents' petition to stay at the Lucerne hotel, forcing them to relocate to the Radisson Hotel in lower Manhattan at some point in the coming days. Last week, Judge James rejected West Side Community Organization's attempt to attach as a party to the suit which was brought by Downtown New Yorkers Inc.

Below is a statement from Shams aka Da Homeless Hero:

"We are hurt. This decision negatively affects homeless people throughout America and that's really what this fight was about: having our voices heard, challenging an irrational decision made by the Mayor to please some rich folk. But the fact that we got this far in the conversation and exposed the City for the inhumanity it has not just towards homeless individuals but towards all Black and Brown people is a huge win.

We exposed the Mayor, the City, Randy Mastro and his clients as utter liars. We exposed that they care very little for us experiencing homelessness and more about their agendas to perpetuate this homeless crisis and further destabilize the homeless population that is already destabilized by a shelter environment that fails us day after day, perpetuating dependency, substance use and mental illness. We have proven that the City does not care about our wellbeing, because if they did, we would be able to stay at a place where we are thriving.

But what we want you to remember today, is that even though we didn't get the outcome we wanted in court, by fighting and speaking out against this inhumanity, we have already won. Because we fought, we have maintained our dignity, to tell the city that while they may be able to move our bodies on a whim, they cannot silence our voices. Because we fought, residents are better served with on site services, and we have generated a shelter model that works better for residents and the community. Because we fought, 30 of us have moved into permanent housing--the city figuring that was the only way to keep us quiet.

And we will not stop doing this work. From this point on, we will be meeting with elected officials, including the Mayoral candidates, city and state legislators, and many others to draft policy and laws that will protect the invisible, vulnerable, and voiceless population that is the homeless community. We hope the mayor will join us in trying to unite the community here on the Upper West Side, as well as the community downtown, rather than sowing division. I will be personally working to make this happen--as a first step, we will be inviting those downtown with questions to get to know us as neighbors in the coming days, and open the door to work together to ensure everyone's needs are addressed.

This case was not as much about the Lucerne as it was about homeless people being able to challenge the city and its agencies in regards to their well-being, and while the law doesn't fully protect us as of present, we will from this day forward be committed towards fixing those laws that are so obviously broken. This flawed system has allowed people like the Mayor to profit off of poverty by funneling money to his political and personal benefactors, while leaving us to languish in a broken system.

We won whether the City will admit it or not because at the end of the day DHS has been served notice. If you violate our humanity we will fight you in the court of law and we will keep fighting until we beat you, and until your broken system is replaced. Like a phoenix from the ashes, still we rise."


On October 19th, Judge Debra James granted the men a TRO in response to a suite of affidavits from Lucerne shelter residents, a physician who specializes in substance abuse, a social worker, and a co-founder of UWS Open Hearts attesting to the irrational and harmful nature of the move. Because of the TRO, dozens of residents have started working through Goddard Riverside's Green Keepers program, offering residents privately funded, stable employment. Photos are attached. More affidavits were filed in support of the men from current and former elected officials including Obama HUD secretary Shaun Donovan, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, former BP Ruth Messinger, Senators Brad Hoylman and Robert Jackson, and CM Helen Rosenthal.

Residents at the Lucerne are now receiving 6-day-a-week services on-site from Project Renewal's Recovery Center, which provides intakes, occupational therapy, and group meetings. At a standard shelter such services would normally only be available off-site. This is on top of the robust case management, nursing, and wellness programs offered by Project Renewal's nearly 100 on-site staff members, and supplemental programming offered in partnership with local organizations and volunteers, such as walk and talks with faith leaders, resume workshops, and community donation events.

A NY1/Ipsos poll from October found that sixty-two percent of New Yorkers support housing people currently homeless in their neighborhoods.

In late July, clients of Project Renewal were placed at the Lucene after being transferred from another hotel in Midtown. Soon after, Bill de Blasio caved to a group of Upper West Siders who started a racist facebook group and raised $150,000 to hire former Giuliani deputy Randy Mastro to kick Project Renewal shelter residents out of the Lucerne. The Mayor's decision to move the shelter has emboldened NIMBYs across New York City to privately fundraise ever-growing sums to keep shelters out of their neighborhoods.