Debra A. James, the Supreme Court justice who presided over the case, last week questioned the city’s rationale for moving the men.
“Because there were particularly powerful people, there was a decision made that the men have to go?” Judge James asked during the hearing, which lasted more than five hours spread over two days. “That’s a concern of mine.”
Soon after the men moved into the Lucerne, residents of the Upper West Side formed a private Facebook group that featured frequent posts blaming the men for public drug use, urinating in the street and harassment and at times described them using racist, dehumanizing language.
Other residents reached out to the men and formed a neighborhood group that worked with them to develop innovative services. Another organization arranged for a program that gave jobs to 50 men. Their lawyer said it would no longer be available if they had to leave the hotel.
According to the city’s Department of Homeless Services, moving about 9,500 people from shelters to hotels had saved many lives. The outlook for the residents in the main shelter system, which houses about 54,000 homeless people, was far more perilous earlier in the spring, when they were still living in dormitory-style shelters.
The mayor has defended his decision to relocate the men as part of an effort to return homeless people back to conventional shelters, but a more widespread effort to do so does not yet appear to be underway.
The men who had wanted to stay at the Lucerne may have, for the moment, lost in court, but Mr. DaBaron said, “By fighting and speaking out against this inhumanity, we have already won.”
He added: “Because we fought, we have maintained our dignity, to tell the city that while they may be able to move our bodies on a whim, they cannot silence our voices.”