Controversy over hotels housing homeless heats up on Upper West Side

Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Some Upper West Side residents have been calling to relocate homeless people housed in local hotels.

Controversy over hotels housing homeless heats up on Upper West Side

Some residents are pushing to have the homeless men staying in local hotels relocated.
August 10, 2020

New York City officials have been moving thousands of homeless shelter residents into hotel rooms throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Nearly 20% of the city’s hotels – left largely empty as tourism has come to a standstill – currently house homeless people. 

But the initiative has spurred controversy on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where some residents are accusing homeless men who are staying at local hotels of diminishing quality of life in the area. Complaints have particularly centered on men housed at The Lucerne, a hotel operating as a temporary shelter under the oversight of the nonprofit Project Renewal. Public drug use, fights and limited mask usage are among the concerns some residents have mentioned in a petition signed by 5,000 people aimed at relocating homeless people staying at hotels in the area.

Others on the Upper West Side have contested those complaints, circulating another petition urging those in the neighborhood to support the temporary shelters as a step to help people with addiction, mental health disorders and other challenges that fuel homelessness. Some homeless men staying in the shelters have reported positive experiences staying there.

The need for additional homeless shelter beds has long faced opposition from neighborhood groups in New York City, who often cite a perceived risk of additional crime or declines in property value. 

NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.