More than 200 homeless men whom the city plans to relocate from an Upper West Side hotel to another hotel Downtown will have to enter their new digs through a side entrance in a pub, of all places, the Daily News has learned.
A homeless resident and a local activist supporting the men - some of whom are in recovery for substance abuse - were shocked to learn of the plan when they visited the new site last week.
"I'm in recovery and I'm OK, but don't put me in a bar. It just psychologically is triggering," Shams DeBaron told The News. "I said, this makes no sense at all when there's [another] entrance over there."
It's the latest twist in a saga that began when the city moved thousands of homeless men out of group shelters during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, relocating them to temporary hotels.
When a group of Upper West Side residents threatened last month to sue the city over the placement of some homeless men in the Lucerne Hotel on W. 79th St., Mayor de Blasio quickly caved, deciding to shuffle the men to a Radisson in the Financial District. The Department of Homeless Services was expected to bus the men from the Lucerne to the Radisson, located on William St., on Monday morning. © Zalcman DaniellaThe city is planning to move more than 200 homeless men from the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side to a Radisson in the Financial District.
The city is planning to move more than 200 homeless men from the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side to a Radisson in the Financial District. (Zalcman Daniella/)
Shams and local activist Stephanie Tchuente learned of the plans to have the men enter through a bar, instead of the Radisson's main entrance, last Thursday.
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DHS staff conducting a site walk-through told the duo that to enter the hotel, the homeless men will have to go through the nearby Bailey Pub & Brasserie, undergo a metal detector check there and then use a back door leading into the Radisson.
While the pub is closed for business, a bar including beer taps was visible during the visit, according to Shams and Tchuente, who co-founded a group of FiDi residents working to support their prospective new neighbors.
"They did say they would block [the bar], but didn't give any details as to how much would be seen or unseen," Tchuente said of DHS staff. "On all fronts, the city has completely messed it up."
DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn said Shams and Tchuente's account was "inaccurate," but didn't specify what they got wrong or immediately answer a request for clarification.
"The so-called 'main' entrance ... is too narrow and does not provide sufficient space to implement our standard comprehensive security screening," he stated. "A second entrance provides sufficient space to implement these required measures, including standard comprehensive security screening as well as implementation of best health practices, like social distancing."
"There is no in-service restaurant or bar on the premises at this time (liquor has been fully removed from the premises)," McGinn added.
For Shams, the planned use of the Bailey Pub is the latest in a series of insults from the city. © Provided by New York Daily NewsThe city is planning to move more than 200 homeless men from the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side to a Radisson in the Financial District.
The city is planning to move more than 200 homeless men from the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side to a Radisson in the Financial District.
"This is what happens when you don't think about how what you do directly affects the residents," he said. "What about my mental health and wellness? What about my sobriety? Did you take that into consideration, how going through this process might trigger me?"
Residents currently at the Lucerne have been holding regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings there, according to Shams, and a number of the men are receiving outpatient recovery services.
"It's definitely concerning that they have to enter through a pub even though it's closed at this time," said Dr. Kim Sue, an addiction physician and medical director of the Harm Reduction Coalition.