Homeless advocates marched up to the Mayor Bill de Blasio's home on Sunday to protest the city's decision to remove some 300 people living in hotels configured for temporary housing.
As a way to contain the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population in the city, de Blasio used hotels — which were not holding almost any guests during the shutdown — as a safe place to live for the homeless, many of whom suffer from mental illness, addiction and more.
But many on the Upper West Side said their quality of life had been suffering as a result, complaining about having to walk by people passed out on the sidewalks and performing lewd acts along the street.
Advocates say the decision to relocate people staying at the Lucerne Hotel will have a domino affect on those already staying in shelters across the city, forcing them out to make room for the incoming residents.
Protesters led by the Upper West Side Open Hearts Initiative marched from the site of the controversial Lucerne Hotel on 79th Street to Gracie Mansion as part of a demonstration to call attention the plan in hopes of prompting intervention from the mayor.
"We are here to stand with residents of the Lucerne and the residents of the Harmonia to say that we will not let the imagined fears of white people continue to dictate the lived experience of Black New Yorkers," one of the advocates said Sunday.
It was announced last week that 300 homeless residents who had been temporarily staying at the Lucerne Hotel and at another location in Queens would be moved after local residents on the UWS complained of quality of life issues in the neighborhood. But protesters say moving them again is unfair to people who will be shuffled around, pushing out those in shelters to make room for others.
"Now we are going to have hundreds of New Yorkers be displaced solely because the mayor would not stand up for what's right and decided to give in to racist fear mongering," said Jacquelyn Simone of the Coalition for the Homeless.
A spokesperson for the mayor released a statement Sunday that read, "We've done more to help New Yorkers experiencing homelessness than any previous administration, transforming a broken shelter system that had been left to languish for decades. We'll continue to do all we can to support our most vulnerable as we navigate these unprecedented circumstances."
"Its not too late. I think the mayor should reverse his decision, it is not too late," said NYC Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who joined the protesters.