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Mayor De Blasio Defends Decision To Move Homeless Out Of UWS Hotels, Says That Housing Was Never The Long-Term Plan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds of homeless are being moved from an Upper West Side hotel after neighbors in the posh area complained of an increase in crime and quality-of-life issues.

Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to the criticism about the decision on Wednesday, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

It was less than two months ago that some 300 homeless men, many with drug and mental health issues, were bused to the area to take up residence at the Lucerne Hotel on West 79th Street.

Now, they're about to be moved again, after strident community complaints.


Why did the mayor change his mind so soon, especially since officials reportedly booked the hotel through December?

"I went and saw for myself on the Upper West Side last week," de Blasio said. "And what I saw was not acceptable and had to be addressed, because the idea is to always try and balance the need to serve homeless folks with a need for community to continue to go about its life."

MORESome Homeless Say They Understand NYC's Decision To Get Them Out Of Hotels: 'They Say We Gotta Move, We Gotta Move'

Some say the mayor caved to neighborhood demands, that the squeaking wheel, in this case wealthy New Yorkers, gets the action. Some wondered why the move was necessary.

"Why was it necessary to move them out of the hotels and why couldn't you have identified the people who are causing the trouble, move them out, and kept the people in the Lucerne and given them the services they would need?" Kramer asked the mayor.

"Marcia, I think I said it before and I'll say it again -- we have said for years we do not want to be in temporary hotel facilities," de Blasio said. "We've been very clear. We need to get out of that."

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The mayor said the Lucerne was originally booked for the homeless because of the need to spread people out during the coronavirus pandemic. But could he also have been swayed by the threat of a lawsuit, charging the homeless weren't getting the services they need at the Lucerne and two other hotels in the area?

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Randy Mastro, the attorney hired by the group West Side Community Organization, said the mayor's decision was the right one for everyone.

"This is really about compassionate humane treatment for all concerned, for a neighborhood devastated, for a vulnerable population in need of services. This is a win-win for all concerned," Mastro said.

There are still two more hotels housing the homeless in the neighborhood. It's unclear when or if those residents will be relocated.

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