Artwork by Rebecca Katz

Last week, Mayor de Blasio announced that the City will be displacing homeless New Yorkers from hotels on the Upper West Side. Housing is a human right and when we heard this, we knew we had to act.

Homeless New Yorkers, JFREJ, VOCAL-NY, Picture the Homeless, Homeless Can’t Stay Home, and the Open Hearts Initiative marched to Gracie Mansion on September 13 to protest the City’s decision to move people out of COVID-safe housing and back into crowded shelters.

What we're up against

The Mayor’s decision came after weeks of racist messaging from groups like the West Side Community Organization (WSCO) who have criminalized hotel residents and filmed and harassed them via patrols by the Guardian Angels (a group with ties to right-wing shock jock Curtis Sliwa). The local police precinct has openly partnered with WSCO—which is represented by former Guiliani official Randy Mastro—describing the group's work as “winning back the UWS.”

Da Homeless Hero, a current resident of the Lucerne Hotel, writes: “I beg of you to fight and fight hard for us. We are not humans in the eyes of so many. As a Black man, the descendent of slaves, there is the inner connection to the ancestors that allows me to understand from my current experience what it’s like to be looked at as less than human...I feel traumatized at being dehumanized, moved around like pawns on chessboard.”

Just two days after the march and after months of public pressure, the city announced it will put a pause on plans to displace people from COVID-safe housing at the Lucerne. This delay is a testament to the powerful organizing led by New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and our partners at VOCAL-NY, Picture the Homeless, and the UWS Open Hearts Initiative. But it is still not enough.

Take action with us!

  • The Department of Homeless Services has extended the deadline and will allow people living at the Lucerne to stay until at least October 19th. Join the Open Hearts Initiative in front of the Lucerne on Sunday, October 3rd from 2-4pm at 201 West 79th Street, NY, NY. This will be a voter registration drive, a free flea market, and an action to fight against the displacement of the men living at the Lucerne.
  • The Stop the Sweeps NYC Survey project is a nationwide effort led by homeless people across the country to gather information on the impact of police sweeps. In NYC, Picture the Homeless is anchoring the project, and is offering a training on Thursday, October 8th from 6:30pm-8pm on how to conduct these surveys.
  • The city must put a permanent freeze on displacing homeless New Yorkers. JFREJ will continue organizing in solidarity with residents of Lucerne to stop the displacement of homeless New Yorkers from COVID-safe housing. Email to join us for the above activities.