A Lucerne Hotel resident is joining a court challenge filed by the Upper West Side group trying to force the city to relocate a group of homeless men from the hotel and move to a different facility downtown.
The West Side Community Organization announced the unidentified man’s involvement in a press release on Wednesday; the group said they’re filing a court motion seeking to intervene in another lawsuit filed by a group of Financial District residents called Downtown New Yorkers Inc., who want to block the homeless men from moving to a shelter at the Radisson Hotel on William Street.
The motion argues that the unnamed Lucerne resident “has a right to join the case” because fellow shelter residents who oppose the move in the lawsuit “do not adequately represent his interests and he would be bound by a ruling in the case." The motion is also asking that a few Upper West Side residents and the so-called WestCo group should also be a party to the lawsuit because they have "a substantial interest in the outcome of the litigation."
"We have moved to intervene in the ongoing litigation to support the City's decision to make this move and to explain to the Court our unique interests on behalf of WestCo's members, supporters, and even a current DHS client living at the Lucerne now joining our cause who wants to move to this shelter facility downtown,” said WestCo’s lawyer -- and Rudy Giuliani's former deputy mayor -- Randy Mastro in the press release.
The legal maneuver is the latest development in the wrangling over the future of the group of men who were moved from the city’s congregate homeless shelters as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, and into the vacant Lucerne Hotel in July where they had individual hotel rooms and could stay safely without fear of contracting the coronavirus in a group shelter.
The West Side Community Organization was formed by a group of Upper West Siders, who first coalesced in a Facebook group filled with threats and complaints about the presence of the homeless men in the neighborhood and ultimately hired Mastro to threaten the city with a lawsuit. In September, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the homeless men would be moved to the Radisson hotel in the Financial District.
The Downtown New Yorkers Inc. group sprang up to challenge that move in court and fundraised $1 million for legal fees. The move, originally scheduled for October 19th, is now on pause while the city responds to the court challenges.
“While litigation proceeds, we will continue serving the men at the Lucerne, where our use of such a commercial hotel setting is helping to protect them from the virus, stop the spread of COVID-19, and save lives. Should the courts allow it, we will proceed with relocating the men to the Wall Street-area location we identified, which also has more space for on-site services than the Lucerne, and is closer to clients’ existing medical care,” said Ian Martin of the city’s Department for Social Services, which oversees the city’s homeless outreach efforts, in a statement.
He said while the lawsuit is pending, the Radisson in lower Manhattan will be used as it has been since the pandemic began - as an emergency homeless shelter.
“Pending the outcome of the litigation, in the short-term we will continue utilizing the Wall Street-area location as we have since March, as part of our response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in this case to serve single adult individuals in need of shelter who cannot be placed in congregate settings at this time for their safety,” Martin said.