The migrant crisis has run the city ragged over the last several months. With a new wave of asylum seekers expected to arrive when Title 42 ends, Speaker Adrienne Adams and the City Council convened a historic two-day hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday to review access to important services like food, education and housing.
To date, New York City has received more than 30,000 immigrants bussed up from the border with about 25,000 in shelters or Humanitarian Emergency Respite Center (HERC) living conditions. There’s a portion of asylum seekers that have decided to resettle outside the city or reconnect with family and friends, said city authorities in the hearing. Most of the migrants are from Central America, South America, West Africa and South Africa. The incoming influx of an even bigger wave of asylum seekers requires improving coordination and support services between every city agency.
The Row NYC and Stewart Hotels have housed more than 4,000 families with children with hundreds of adult families at the Wolcott Hotel, and mostly adult men briefly at the now dismantled Randall’s Island site. On the family sites especially, there’s bilingual education department enrollment staff, medical staff for physicals and vaccinations, access to clothing and cultural food, social and mental health services, and resettlement assistants, testified city authorities.
“Over the past several months, New York City has worked to pool its resources and accommodate the arrival of tens of thousands of new migrants. As a sanctuary city, we welcome our recent arrivals with open arms and will continue to utilize every tool at our disposal to ensure they can build safe, productive, and dignified lives,” said Adams at the hearing.
“The Council will continue to advocate that greater resources be provided to our city for this national and international humanitarian crisis, while prioritizing improved services and support for all New Yorkers, including newly arrived migrants,” said Adams.
City authorities testified that they are considering more HERC centers because of the end of title 42, including rebuilding the Randall’s Island intake center. From the Department of Social Services Gary Jenkins spoke about what a sheer struggle it is to provide temporary housing without any warning. He said a coordinated effort from southern states would be immensely helpful but that just isn’t happening.
“This is a 24 hour operation. There’s no down time. We are constantly working throughout the day and the night,” said Jenkins at the hearing.
Jenkins and Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, who chairs the Committee on General Welfare, agreed that every councilmember should be offering spaces in their district for potential housing and HERCs. Ayala mentioned that there needs to be more incentive to fill the city’s approximately 38,000 vacant rent stabilized apartments and pay small landlords.
”We’re fighting to house families because we have a moral and legal right, but quite frankly this is not home. Living in a hotel is not home,” said Ayala. “We have to do better.”
Many made a plea to the state and federal government to shoulder some of the financial burden, hasten work permits for asylum seekers, and more quickly move people out of the shelter system into housing. Several groups also passionately spoke about the suicides and deaths that have occurred in these facilities and the need to get people into stable homes.
Adams put forth her housing agenda just prior to the hearings. The City Council will pass legislation to establish a citywide Fair Housing Framework that aims to fairly distribute the burden of building affordable housing in each community district and neighborhood.
It would help address historic disparities in housing production and investment that have often exempted affluent neighborhoods from affordable housing development in New York and cities as the housing situation grows dire, said the City Council. A situation that has only worsened during the heights of the migrant crisis.
The plan also calls for citywide production of “extremely low-income” housing set at 30% to 50% of a household’s income, more supportive housing for people struggling with homelessness or mental health challenges, and for the city to address the problem of vacant affordable housing units.
In 2022, the City Council has already approved substantial affordable housing capital projects, including the Bruckner Rezoning in the Bronx, Innovation QNS and Hallets North in Queens, and the Innovative Urban Village in East New York, an 11-acre site with 13 buildings along Flatlands Avenue that would have nearly 2,000 units.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://bit.ly/amnews1
What is the City Council going to do about the thousands of HOMELESS NYers who ARE American citizens? These people are former veterans, families with young children as well as single adults who for any number of REAL reasons became homeless in NYC. Why should the resources that my tax dollars pay for go to helping and supporting migrants from South America? This makes no sense!!! They were able to literally walk across the US border without a Visa or permit to be in this country, and now my tax money must be used to support THEM?? Meanwhile, very little affordable housing is being built in the City to house the thousands of NYers who also need these same support services to “get back on their feet.” What is wrong with the City Council and the current Mayor. I will remember this on the next Election Day.
I agree with Cynthia. Further more, I consider what the city council and Eric Adams are doing with regards to this latest round of tens of thousands of illegals/migrants from central America, an affront and an act of racism towards our homeless and mentally ill American born New Yorkers, who I might add, are majority black people. And let’s not forget how Texas sent out officers on horseback to round up, terrorize and quickly kick Haitians illegals/migrants out of the country.
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