NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Homeless men currently housed at the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side are making an effort to stay in the neighborhood as they wait for a judge to decide whether or not they must move, again.
The saga has been ongoing for months. Some neighbors complained the men were causing problems, but now the men are trying to show they’re good members of the community, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Friday.
The group of men living at the Lucerne shelter on West 79th Street are getting paid to pick up trash in the area through a program called “Green Keepers.”
“We’re able to do good by actually cleaning the neighborhood. It may not sound like a lot to the average person, but, to many of us that are in here, that’s a great thing,” said Shams Dabaron, a shelter resident.
“We live here, too, now. So, why not help?” Jason Mobley, another shelter resident, said.
They may not live there for much longer, however. The men are awaiting a judge’s decision – expected Monday – on whether they can stay or have to move to a shelter in the Financial District.
“I would like to stay. This is a good area, good people. All of that bouncing around, I’m not a real fan of that. It’s close to my appointments, it’s close to jobs,” said Mobley.
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For months, the Lucerne Hotel has been the subject of controversy. During the pandemic, the men were moved out of dorm-style shelters so they could isolate in single rooms.
Upper West Side residents were divided about the move. Some complained about violence, public urination and garbage. Others said it’s too late to move the men, since they’re already set up with services in the area.
“It’s tough. I can see both sides. I live right across the street. We’ve see prostitution, we’ve seen drug use,” said Derek Scolpino. “On the other hand, we’re in a pandemic. This is a vulnerable population and they need to be protected.”
“We live around the corner. We believe these men have a right to be here and to have the city provide services to rehabilitate them,” said another neighbor.
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A temporary restraining order was granted last month, allowing the men to stay in the hotel until the court makes a final decision.
If the judge rules against the men, they could lose their jobs, like street cleaning work, that were set up by local philanthropy.
The men would be moved to the Radisson Hotel in the Financial District if they lose the court battle. The hotel has been kept open as a COVID isolation site for the homeless.
With a second wave looming, some homeless advocacy groups say the downtown site must remain open for quarantine.