New York City, NY

Activists demand stop to homeless transfers from hotels to shelters and work to end homeless New York crisis

Desiree Peralta

As the "Month Of Homeless Rights" in New York City came to its end, activists and political leaders in New York strongly attacked De Blasio administration for what they describe as a "false", "unfair", "racist" and "irresponsible” move to relocate about 8, 000 homeless people settled in hotels to protect them from the COVID-19 pandemic

The protestors also requested urgently to take action by Major Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was planned only a year ago, outside the Hotel Lucerne on 79th Street in Manhattan where there were homeless individuals who had been returning to shelters.

The protest occurs, following a court order last week for a temporary cessation to be taken, calling for measures to ensure that no movement is jeopardized for the vulnerable homeless and that the City has resumed threatening thousands of homeless New Yorkers and other protests at other City hotels, according to complainants.

The major issue is that at a time when COVID infections in New York have risen 250%, and less than 30% of the homeless are vaccinated, the City is rudely transferring them from hotels to unsafe and congested communal shelters.

Moving these people when there is clear evidence that COVID is increasing is foolhardy, no one should be moved with this uncertainty. We have two leaders (Cuomo and De Blasio) repeating mistakes. The least they can do right now is not make the mistakes that have cost many people's lives over and over again,said the Ombudsman, Jumaane Williams.

The Ombudsman requested furthermore that municipal legislation be implemented without delay in Intro 146, which was agreed by the Council but had to wait 180 days, which might lead to an improvement in the number of aid vouchers so that homeless persons could leave shelters and have their house.

Shams DaBaron, also known as "Da Homeless Hero," who lived in the Hotel Lucerne between July of last year and February of this year, pleaded with the Mayor to halt the transfers, claiming that the shelters are a living danger for the vulnerable homeless, who he fears will become infected in shelters, as happened to him, where he was about to die.

Living at the Lucerne Hotel changed my life drastically. The organizing work I did with my fellow Lucerne residents has given a new voice to how we understand the housing crisis in the city. We speak for ourselves now, and demand that the mayor stops transfers, which will literally kill people, and work with us to build real solutions to end homelessness nowsaid DaBaron, who claimed that the City and State had been racist in their treatment of the homelessness problem. “The situation would be different if the shelters were not filled with blacks and Latinos. In shelters, up to 50 people sleeping in one room.”

State Senator José Serrano Jr. joined the voices of outrage at the City's actions, calling for a halt to transfers and the implementation of programs that would place the homeless in their own apartments rather than shelters.

“We have to reimagine everything and how to deal with the crisis of homelessness that has not been answered. It is the moment so that we can move actions that guarantee that this will not happen again,” said the young politician.

A spokesman from the Legal Aid Society group present at the demonstration stated that if necessary, they will return to court to prevent further homeless individuals from being relocated to shelters or hotels.

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