New York City is under another state of emergency as its shelter system is struggling to house over 61,000 people, Mayor Eric Adams announced this morning.
“This is a humanitarian crisis that started with violence and instability in South America, and it is being accelerated by American political dynamics,” he said. “Thousands of asylum seekers have been bused into New York City and simply dropped off without notice, coordination or care and more are arriving every day. This crisis is not of our own making, but one that will affect everyone in this city, now and in the months ahead.”
Adams is, of course, referring to Republican officials like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott chartering asylum seekers to major urban areas like New York City in a political chess game to pressure Pres. Joe Biden into tightening laws around southern border migration. But the pawns are people escaping dangerous conditions at home—and “legally,” under U.S. immigration law. Now they join a game board already at capacity due to a separate, ongoing New York City housing crisis.
For months, organizations like the Legal Aid Society and New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) recommended supporting unhoused New Yorkers out of the shelter system and into permanent housing. And for the first time, Adams acknowledged the suggestion and concurred.
“We’re putting people up in emergency hotels, but the holiday season is right around the corner and space is limited,” the mayor said. “We’re trying to find better, faster ways to get people into permanent housing, but years of delays have kept new low-income housing from being built.”
“Housing experts and immigrant advocates like ourselves have also suggested solutions to relieve pressure on our overburdened shelter system, and it seems that the administration is finally listening and moving forward critical policy changes,” said NYIC executive director Murad Awawdeh. “As the mayor explained in his remarks, New Yorkers continue to step up to support our newest arrivals, and we will continue to do so. We look forward to working with the City to implement any logical and reasonable plan to support asylum seekers to thrive in New York City.”
Adams is currently enlisting religious organizations and houses of worship to help with housing migrants. He also mentioned working with the private sector for clothes and supplies.
There’s also the matter of the controversial Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center, which was moved from Orchard Beach in the Bronx to Randall’s Island earlier this week due to flooding. The new tent shelter can only accommodate half as many newly arrived asylum seekers.
Under a state of emergency, the city will formally direct all relevant agencies towards housing the influx of asylum seekers. Additionally, certain land use requirements are suspended to build more shelters.
“As we did after 9/11 and superstorm Sandy, we will rally together for the greater good in a time of unprecedented crisis,” said Adams. “Generations from now, there will be many Americans who will trace their stories back to this moment in time. Grandchildren who will recall the day their grandparents arrived here in New York City and found compassion, not cruelty.
“A place to lay their head, a warm meal, a chance at a better future. Thank you, New York, for doing the right thing.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This developing story was originally published on Friday, Oct. 7 but will appear in our print edition on Thursday, Oct. 13. It will be continuously updated as new information comes out.
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://bit.ly/amnews1