Mayor Adams announced in a press release Thursday that the city plans to place asylum seekers in refugee-style temporary camps – a move that further illustrates the enormous tension the recent influx of migrants has created within the city’s shelter system.
In an e-mail published by his press office, Adams’s team referred to the camps as “humanitarian and humanitarian aid centers” and cited examples of such centers from the past with photos of tents filled with rows and rows of baby cots.
The first single adult support center will open in the Orchard Beach parking lot in the coming weeks. The location of the second center has not yet been determined.
“While other leaders have relinquished their moral obligation to support incoming asylum seekers, New York City is refusing to do so,” Adams said in a written statement. “This crisis response represents what we know must be done in this humanitarian crisis as we continue to seek help from our federal and state partners to continue this work.”
The new centers will offer shelter, food, medical care, legal aid and tickets to other locations, key city officials said.
For months, Adams and his administration have struggled for home and care for the steady flow of Latin American migrants seeking asylum in the United States. Many of the more than 13,000 people who have flocked to the city so far arrive on buses run by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who has used this practice to criticize President Biden’s border policies.
Adams criticized the behavior of Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who sent loads of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, as “a political feat,” but the rhetoric on both sides did little to meet the real needs of asylum seekers. of which he recently committed suic*de.
Remarkably, Adams announced the new relief centers in a press release – not in person. The creation of the centers is the first in years that the government has created freestanding temporary temporary housing in the city – possibly since Quonset huts were used to house veterans and their families after WWII.
“This is completely unprecedented,” said Catherine Trapani, executive director of Homeless Services United, of the new camps. “We don’t set up refugee camps in New York.”
After making a written statement in the morning, administration officials later replied to press questions during the briefing, provided that officials were not named by name. Late that afternoon, Mayor Adams spoke at the Texas Tribune festival, answering questions from one journalist.
There, Adams made Thursday’s announcement to reassess how city policies would interact with the state’s right to refuge – something he promised to do a few days ago.
“It doesn’t look like it’s slowing down at all,” he said, referring to the influx of migrants into the city. “So our legal team is really looking at the right to refuge. We have to revise how it is done correctly. “
Administration officials noted that the Orchard Beach facility alone will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 adults and will be climate controlled and weatherproof, meaning it will be snow and rainproof. Officials did not provide an estimate of the cost of the camps, but one of them noted that the city would seek reimbursement for the camps. There will be five large tents on the Orchard Beach site, another official noted.
Since Thursday, more than 10,000 asylum seekers who have arrived in the city have been living in homeless shelters. Last week the figure was 8,500. About 3,200 of the more than 10,000 migrants in the shelters are school-age children.
Representative Ritchie Torres (DY) said the answer to this was “unprecedented because the situation is unprecedented.”
“There is no manual for what happens,” he said. “The federal government is nowhere to be found. New York City urgently needs FEMA help.
The Legal Aid Society and the Homeless Coalition, however, focused on Adams’s recent response to the crisis, not the federal government.
“We are deeply concerned about any scenario where families with children would be relegated to assembly places,” the groups said in a joint statement. “This practice, which has been widely condemned for its negative and dangerous impact on this extremely vulnerable population, is already subject to legal prohibitions.”
Both groups have accused Adams in recent weeks of failing to respect the right to refuge by his administration, which requires that refuge be provided to anyone who seeks it in good time. Adams and his team replied that while in some cases they did not meet the time requirements, they eventually provided shelter to those seeking him.
The mayor has also been cautious about the scarcity of new affordable housing in the city and how this leads to crowding into homeless shelters.
“New York City continues to do a very bad job of moving people into shelters to housing,” said Sam Stein, a housing policy analyst at the Community Service Society. “We need to improve this to have more space in the shelter system in case something like this happens.”
It is still unclear how long the city will host asylum seekers in the relief camps it plans to build. City officials said in their written statement that asylum seekers “who do not find or cannot find immediate housing will remain in humanitarian centers for approximately 24 to 96 hours”, but also noted that the timeframe “may change over time. depending on the situation ”. “
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