A group of Lower East Side residents and businesses have lost their bid to stop a new temporary shelter from opening up in their neighborhood, according to a ruling Tuesday.
Locals filed suit last month opposing city plans to open up a temporary shelter at the 100 Orchard St. Blue Moon Hotel on Feb. 15 to help ease crowding among the city’s homeless shelter population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Frank Nervo said the locals didn’t have legal standing to challenge the city’s contract for the shelter because they didn’t bid on it and couldn’t prove that they were negatively effected beyond as members of the general public — a necessary legal requirement.
Further, the locals’ “claims of harm are entirely speculative” Nervo’s decision read.
The Lower East Siders challenged the shelter on a number of grounds including on claims that the close quarters of the 22-room converted former tenement building could cause an outbreak of COVID-19.
The suit also claimed that the city was trying to bypass the normal review process under special pandemic rules by saying it would be a temporary shelter with a six-month term — while the lease can be renewed monthly for up to nine years. They claimed the city really planned to extend the use of the shelter permanently.
The city has since laid out plans on how it plans to combat the spread of coronavirus at the hotel including only using 46 beds there. It also planned to enforce mask-wearing in common areas, test residents and staff for the virus and take their temperatures when they enter the building.
A spokesperson with the Department of Homeless Services said, “As hoped and as expected, the court has affirmed our need to provide vital services and supports to our unsheltered neighbors, especially during this emergency period, and we look forward to welcoming New Yorkers in need to this high-quality site, where we’ll build on our progress helping nearly 4,000 unsheltered individuals come off the streets and get back on their feet.”
Devon Goodrich, senior counsel in the city Law Department said, “We are pleased with the decision. We’re a step closer to helping people in need during the pandemic.”
Law firm Dealy Silberstein & Braverman, LLP, which represents the locals, said they plan to appeal the decision.
“The petitioners are disappointed with today’s decision, and it is unfortunate that they did not even have an opportunity to argue their position before the court,” the firm said in a statement.