City officials are hitting the brakes on a plan to force homeless residents of the Upper West Side’s Lucerne Hotel to relocate — after three of the men asked the courts to intervene on Sunday, claiming the move would cause them “irreparable harm.”
The three men, Ramone Buford, Larry Thomas and Travis Trammell, were part of the group of about 235 who were set to be carted off to a former Radisson Hotel in Lower Manhattan beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Monday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary confirmed that the planned relocation was halted pending a judge’s ruling on the apparent last-ditch effort by the trio to stop the move.
“We will meet the lawyers in court and we plan to prevail. In the meantime, we will continue our efforts to best support all New Yorkers currently experiencing homelessness,” Bill Neidhardt said.
In court papers filed on Sunday evening, the men argued that the transfer would cause the Lucerne residents “massive psychological damage.”
“The trauma associated with forcible relocation would place these men at far greater risk for harm than staying at the Lucerne,” their attorney, Michael Hiller, told The Post.
He added that the city’s decision to pause the plans was “the right thing to do.”
The mayor announced his decision to move the men from the Lucerne West 79th Street in September after a lawyer representing a UWS neighborhood group threatened legal action over their continued presence in the area.
Some locals had complained that recovering addicts and other homeless men at the Lucerne accosted residents, openly used drugs in the street and caused other quality-of-life issues.
A group of Lower Manhattan residents and businesses then sued the city in an ultimately failed bid stop de Blasio from moving the men to the shuttered Radisson Hotel on William Street.
“We know that we are not welcomed in the Financial District,” Buford said in an affidavit filed Sunday.
The 51-year-old father, a former musician who spent years in foster care and on the streets, said that by contrast, most Upper West Side residents have been friendly, but for the group that has threatened to sue.
“One of the traumas of being homeless is being un-welcomed. People avoid us on the street, make faces at us on the subways, and try not to make eye contact… The refusal to engage us contributes to alcohol dependency, substance abuse and mental illness in the homeless population,” he wrote.
“Subjecting us to a community that detests us enough to institute litigation to keep us away would threaten to take us backwards and resign us to years, if not decades, of decline.”
Like several other Lucerne residents, Buford risks losing access to treatment programs run through the Lucerne and the local Goddard Riverside Community Center, according to the court documents.
Some of the men have also managed to obtain jobs through the community center that they would lose should they be forced to pack up and leave the neighborhood, the filings state.
“The loss of the Lucerne Programs and the GRP Jobs, coupled with the trauma associated with a Forced Relocation of the Lucerne Residents, would cause them massive psychological damage.”
The city has argued that the men’s new home would offer similar opportunities, but “the programs there are neither comparable nor, in many cases, even existent,” the filing states.
“After decades of struggling with substance use disorder and mental illness, and living on the streets, or in and out of shelters, I am finally on a path towards a normal life,” Buford wrote.
“If I were forced to relocate… I would likely refuse, and instead return to the streets.”
A spokesman for the city’s law department said that: “This move is the right thing to do.”
“We are confident that the court’s decision not to interfere with the judgment of the city to move forward will stand. Residents will continue to get on site services and be closer to the medical care they need.”
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