NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The city has paused the relocation of homeless families living in a Midtown hotel after abruptly telling them they had to move to make way for a group of homeless men.

As CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reports, it’s a temporary win for families living in the Harmonia Shelter, inside the former Hotel Chandler on East 31st Street, saying they got no notice they’re being transferred to make room for a group of men that were pushed out of an Upper West Side hotel.

But Friday afternoon, the city said hold on, it’s going to assess each client’s personal needs before relocating them.

“I think it’s not fair that they would move families, single mothers with children, for men,” said Rosa Pares, a homeless mother.

Three hundred men were told by the city they had to leave the Lucerne Hotel on West 79th Street, where they were temporarily staying during the pandemic so they could live socially distanced instead of living in a shelter, dorm-style, with several beds to a room.

But some Upper West Siders complained the men were causing issues in the neighborhood and threatened to sue the city.

“This is being done for the political game the mayor is playing,” said City Council member Keith Powers. “He’s appeasing folks who didn’t want a shelter on the upper West Side.”

Per state regulations, the single men cannot be put in a family shelter.

So it appears residents from the Harmonia will be moved into another family shelter with vacancies. That will allow for the several hundred men to move into the Harmonia and have their own rooms, but means uprooting the families there. It has been housing homeless couples and families for several years.

Residents like Maria Lopez say they got little notice they’re being transferred.

“Honestly, when I heard that, I couldn’t believe it,” she told Duddridge. “For what reason? We didn’t do nothing wrong. We’re doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Lopez and Pares were saving to get their own apartments, but now they don’t know if they’re going to Queens or Brooklyn or what to bring.

“They told us wherever you get transferred to, you only can bring one bag each,” said Lopez.

“I don’t have no idea,” Pares added.

MORE: Mayor De Blasio Defends Decision To Move Homeless Out Of UWS Hotels, Says That Housing Was Never The Long-Term Plan

“I have life support equipment in my room. And he is in a wheelchair. How are you going to carry him?” said Glenda Harris.

Now the Legal Aid Society is suing the city for not making sure residents at the Harmonia are moved somewhere that can accommodate their medical needs, Duddridge reported.

“I’ve had two heart attacks already. I feel like I’m going to get a third one,” Pares said. “Moving is not right, I’m not stable for all that moving back and forth.”

Some local leaders are trying to freeze the transfer, but residents were told the deadline is this Sunday.

People who work in the neighborhood had mixed feelings.

“They don’t need to be moved from one neighborhood to another to another to another. They need help,” said Janet Waddell, who’s opening a business nearby. “We’ve got to treat the root of the problem.”

“Honestly, not many people live up here anyways. It’s mainly offices and stuff like that,” another person added.

For now, the transfer has been frozen, but Legal Aid couldn’t say for how long. 

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  1. HaroldSBowling says:

    I’m glad she acknowledged the monstrous premise of this otherwise good comedy. A couple breaks up, so they decide to divide up their infant twins — so each girl will never see the other parent, her sister, or any of her other relatives again? Or even know she has a sister? Just as in the original version of this movie, the real villains are clearly both parents…Read More

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