As shelters fill, NYC weighs tents to house migrants

NEW YORK – The mayor of New York City plans to erect hangar-sized tents as temporary housing for thousands of international migrants brought to the Big Apple as part of a campaign by Republican governors to disrupt federal border policy.

The tents are among a range of options – from using cruise ships to summer camps – that the city is considering as it struggles to find housing for an estimated 13,000 migrants who have landed in New York after being evacuated from border towns were brought north in Texas and Arizona.

“This is not your everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Thursday.

New York City’s vast system of homeless shelters has struggled to accommodate the unexpected new flow of migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

In Arizona and Texas, officials have loaded people onto buses for free rides to Washington and New York City. Recently, Florida, where a Republican governor is running for re-election, flew migrants – at public expense – to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

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Adams said the city has opened 23 shelters – and is considering 38 more – to treat the people who have been bused into the city since May. The city also recently opened a new multi-million dollar reception center to help newcomers settle in quickly.

The first tent was proposed for a secluded corner of the Bronx, a parking lot on a popular city beach on Long Island Sound where public transportation is limited. Officials are looking in other areas.

A rendering of the facility’s likely design released by the city showed rows and rows of cots. Presumably the tent would be heated since autumn nights in the city can be quite chilly, but the city released few details.

City officials said these facilities – which they call “humanitarian emergency and relief centers” – would only house migrants for up to four days, while the city organized other types of shelters.

Immigration advocates said the plan was not well thought out.

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“While we recognize the urgent need to meet the very real needs of asylum-seeking families while our housing system remains overwhelmed, we believe any attempt to open a temporary relief camp in Orchard Beach is ridiculous and likely to do more harm than benefit, especially as fall turns into winter,” said Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“We fear that what was intended as a temporary solution will become an inappropriate permanent solution,” he said.

Groups campaigning for the homeless said they would reserve judgment.

“We just don’t have enough details to form an opinion on their plan,” said Josh Goldfein, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society. “If the goal here is to quickly assess what people need and connect them to services that help them, then that’s great.”

But he said the proposal has yet to be fleshed out.

“All we know is a location and a picture of a big tent,” he said. “We don’t know what will be inside – or who.”

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In a joint statement, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said they are working with city officials to “find a workable solution that meets New York’s legal and moral obligation to provide safe and adequate housing to all who seek it.” Offer. including asylum seekers.”

Earlier this month, Adams floated the idea of ​​putting hundreds of migrants on cruise ships.

Critics pounced on the idea, saying he must offer more permanent solutions to a problem that has long vexed the city: how to find permanent housing for the city’s homeless — not just new migrants, but the significant number of homeless people .

Overall, the number of people staying in New York City’s homeless shelters at night had declined in recent years, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This caused city authorities to reduce shelter capacity and left the system unprepared for the sudden surge in people in need of assistance.

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