Maya Wiley, Lucerne Residents, Open Hearts: "Mayor, Come to the Lucerne!"
Group calls on the Mayor to drop this arbitrary move ahead of Judge's decision Monday
NEW YORK, NY (11/20/2020) (readMedia)-- With a final decision on whether or not the shelter residents can stay at the Lucerne expected on Monday, mayoral candidate Maya Wiley, Lucerne residents, including Shams aka Da Homeless Hero, and Upper West Side Open Hearts called on Mayor de Blasio to meet with the residents of the Lucerne and reverse his arbitrary decision to move them to the Radisson.
A NY1/Ipsos poll from October found that sixty-two percent of New Yorkers support housing people currently homeless in their neighborhoods.
"Mr. Mayor, I know you and this is not who you want to be. Instead of trying to forcibly evict the men at the Lucerne, come down here and meet them. Leave City Hall and come see what this community has built, because you should be lifting them up, not grinding them down in court. This arbitrary decision isn't based on fact, but the fears of a vocal few, and that's not how we should be setting public policy in New York City," said mayoral candidate Maya Wiley.
In October, three residents of the Lucerne wrote to the First Lady --an advocate for mental health and substance abuse issues -- and asked that she come down to the Lucerne and meet with them. The First Lady declined.
"When the Mayor came to the Upper West Side he said what he saw was "not acceptable." He's the same guy that says "Black Lives Matter" but when he saw the Black and Brown men at the Lucerne, he decided our lives didn't. I'm a person in recovery for substance use disorder, I have mental illness. His words triggered me in a way that I've never experienced. I struggle each day because despite asking him and his wife, the First Lady, to come and visit us here at Lucerne, they have ignored us as if we're not acceptable enough to visit. Who will accept us if the Mayor of this great City finds "not acceptable"? The fact that we are in court fighting against the City is horrible. I came to the City for help, to save my life, and the City is not showing true concerns for my issues. I'm hurt and I'm confused because I honestly don't think the Mayor is an ill- intentioned person. Therefore, I am asking him to please stop the court proceedings. Only he has that power. Just say you'll handle this. Come to us, the residents and staff at the Lucerne, meet with us, meet with those who support us and those who don't. Be the light in this darkness, the mediator in this conflict and the guide on this journey. Only the Mayor has the power to do that and I ask him to come because I know that if he does that we will have a better experience here at the Lucerne, the residents will be safe in this community and this beautiful neighborhood will be healed. We have successfully created a model here that you should replicate throughout the city. While we can't silence the voices of a racist few, we can expand the consciousness of those who may need a better understanding of what is going on. Let's eliminate their fears and show them that in caring for others we can produce good. Mayor de Blasio: you are the key that can make this work and I hope that you find it in your heart to change your decision and avert further court proceedings that are hurtful to experience," sad Shams aka Da Homeless Hero.
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 here).
More affidavits were filed in support of the men from current and former elected officials including Obama HUD secretary Shaun Donovan (attached), Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (attached), 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.
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 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.
Dozens of elected officials and candidates have stood with the men of the Lucerne, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, Senators Brian Benjamin, Robert Jackson, Jose Serrano, and Brad Hoylman, AMs Linda Rosenthal, Yuh-Line Niou, and Dick Gottfried, every candidate for Manhattan Borough President, CMs Helen Rosenthal, Ben Kallos, Carlina Rivera, Brad Lander, Steve Levin, Keith Powers, and Mark Levine, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley, Mayoral candidate Shaun Donovan, Mayoral candidate Dianne Morales, Cynthia Nixon, Zephyr Teachout, and others.