UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan – Tens of thousands of homeless people have stayed in U.S. hotels paid for by federal programs to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have faced uncertainty as hotel programs end.

New York City is bringing around 9,000 homeless people out of hotels and back to traditional accommodations as the hotels fill up with tourists.

Many of these homeless New Yorkers lived in the Lucerne Hotel. The Federal Emergency Management and the Housing Department paid the Lucerne hotel on the Upper West Side to accommodate homeless men at the beginning of the pandemic.

Sunday night was the last night for homeless New Yorkers to stay there. At times around 280 homeless men lived here.

Some are being returned to shelters and homeless lawyers have said this is the wrong step.

Many people feel unsafe in shelters and end up on the streets, said Owen Crowley of the Upper West Side Open Hearts Initiative.

“The accommodations are expensive, dangerous and perverse when it comes to getting people off the streets,” said Crowley.

Permanent housing has been found for many of the homeless men who live in Lucerne, but around 60 are staying and will leave on Monday morning.

Henry Melendez has built a permanent apartment in the Bronx, but the apartment won’t be ready for another month. He hopes that he can stay in Lucerne until then.

“I’m very, very grateful that they helped me get a new apartment, but moving back to the shelter is not a good idea,” said Melendez.

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