Higher West Facet Homeless Shelters Saga: Every part You Must Know

A fierce neighborhood battle has been taking part in out on the Higher West Facet since early in the summertime, when residents started complaining about homeless New Yorkers who have been quickly positioned in space resorts — together with the Lucerne, the the Belnord, and the Belleclaire — to assist curb the unfold of COVID-19 within the metropolis’s crowded shelters.

One group of Higher West Siders has aggressively campaigned for the removing of their non permanent neighbors. By a brand new nonprofit referred to as West Facet Neighborhood Group, they raised over $100,000 from (largely) nameless donors and employed a former prime staffer for the Giuliani administration, Randy Mastro, to threaten to sue the town. In the meantime, others within the neighborhood have rallied in help of the homeless residents via a bunch referred to as UWS Open Hearts Initiative, organizing donation drives, a sleep-out protest, and usually advocating for his or her proper to stay within the neighborhood.

Right here is the whole lot you must know in regards to the battle and the newest developments.

How it began:

In late April, NYC’s Division of Homeless Companies (DHS) started to switch hundreds of homeless residents from the city-run shelter system into over 60 resorts throughout the boroughs to curb the unfold of COVID-19. A few of these resorts included the Higher West Facet’s Lucerne, Belnord, and Belleclaire, which collectively home around 700 individuals.

Shortly thereafter, some neighbors started to voice their hostility, which included racist language and warnings of violence, on a Fb group with 14,000 members referred to as Higher West Siders for Safer Streets, and the New York Publish took up their cause to evict the unhoused from the resorts. Throughout an August Neighborhood Board 7 assembly, Dr. Megan Martin, who emerged as an unofficial spokesperson, cited “open and illicit drug use, needles on our playgrounds, aggressive panhandling, and public masturbation” as explanation why they need to be eliminated.

Opposition attorneys up and threatens to sue.

After its profitable fundraising effort, the West Facet Neighborhood Group employed former Giuliani prime staffer Randy Mastro, who threatened to sue the town if the de Blasio administration didn’t present a timeline for eradicating the homeless residents from the neighborhood. Mastro despatched a letter to the town on August 26 and mentioned {that a} lawsuit would observe if the de Blasio administration didn’t reply with a plan in 48 hours.

Mayor Invoice de Blasio broadcasts residents of the Lucerne shall be transferred.

Nothing occurred within the two days after the letter was despatched. However about two weeks later, on September 8, the de Blasio administration introduced that it was planning to switch roughly 300 unhoused residents out of the Lucerne Hotel by the top of the month.

Corinne Low, a frontrunner of the UWS Open Hearts Initiative, expressed her outrage over the town’s resolution on the time: “It’s been performed primarily based on stress from a small section of the Higher West Facet, who raised cash and lawyered up and clearly pressured the town into this,” she mentioned. “That simply sends a horrible message that the folks with cash — their consolation issues, they win, metropolis coverage goes to cater to them and never the wants of susceptible people.”

Household shelter residents abruptly displaced; metropolis blames “glitch.”

Following de Blasio’s announcement, the main points of the plan turned clear: As a result of it’s nonetheless unsafe to maneuver the Lucerne residents again into the shelters, they might as a substitute be moved to Harmonia, one other lodge in Midtown used as a brief homeless shelter. Round 150 grownup households dwelling the Harmonia (together with some disabled people) can be compelled to maneuver out of the ability with a view to accommodate residents of the Lucerne.

“My husband and I are in wheelchairs, okay? And I’m on oxygen,” Glenda Harris, a 56-year-old resident of the East thirty first Road shelter advised the Daily News on September 10. “Final minute, they inform us now we have to go away.” The residents have been reportedly given “Notices of Administrative Switch” with out switch dates or places on them.

Thirty-four residents have been instantly transferred out of the Harmonia shelter. Some, together with a 63-year-old woman who uses a walker, have been transferred to North Star, a facility in Lengthy Island Metropolis. Town then blamed these transfers on a “communications glitch,” Authorized Help Society attorneys mentioned. Glitches apart, advocates say shifting the Lucerne residents will end in a “ripple impact,” as 900 homeless shelter residents (together with youngsters about to return to highschool) in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens would be shuffled around.

Advocates name out the mayor, and the town hits pause on the relocations.

The identical day the town started transferring some Harmonia residents, Authorized Help Society attorneys introduced that they have been getting ready to sue the town over their plan to maneuver them out. “Mayor Invoice de Blasio’s pathetic and shortsighted give up to Higher West Facet NIMBYism has unsurprisingly disrupted the lives of different susceptible New Yorkers at numerous shelters round New York Metropolis, all within the midst of a public well being disaster,” Judith Goldiner, an legal professional with Authorized Help, mentioned in a press release. The group mentioned that if the town didn’t present correct lodging for the households being transferred, it might file a brief restraining order within the State Supreme Court docket.

Then, over the weekend, hundreds of advocates including UWS Open Hearts Initiative gathered to protest outdoors Gracie Mansion (the mayor’s dwelling) for hours, asking him to reverse his resolution to switch the residents. On Monday, September 14, the de Blasio administration mentioned it might pause all actions to maneuver homeless residents out of resorts. The Authorized Help Society mentioned it might proceed to barter with the town to make sure that “each New Yorker in shelter may be secure and wholesome and receives the lodging that they’re entitled to as prescribed by regulation.”

Metropolis decides to not switch residents of the Harmonia and different shelters.

On September 25, the town introduced that it might not transfer residents of the Harmonia or the Flatlands shelters in spite of everything “to make sure we’re offering the highest quality companies to our most susceptible,” Isaac McGinn, a DHS spokesperson, mentioned in a press release. DHS additionally mentioned that the 34 people who had already been transferred to a Lengthy Island Metropolis facility would have the choice to move again to the Harmonia.

Nevertheless, advocates (together with members of the UWS Open Hearts Initiative) are nonetheless preventing, as the town nonetheless plans to switch the boys staying on the Lucerne — to a lodge within the Monetary District that was not beforehand used as a shelter.

“We’re heartbroken that the boys dwelling on the Lucerne Lodge, primarily males of coloration coping with a historical past of trauma, shall be traumatized as soon as once more,” the Authorized Help Society mentioned in a press release. “This resolution can have a long-term consequence by emboldening intolerance, so each time the Metropolis tries to website a shelter, or some other crucial companies that folks assume they need to not must reside close to, bigots will specific themselves in vile phrases and demand the identical preferential remedy from Metropolis Corridor.”

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