New York City Will Send Migrant Families to Flood-Prone, Far-Off Tents

Yves here. New York City mayor Eric Adams has embarked on his own anti-migrant campaign, that of making the city a very unattractive destination for new arrivals. Even though one can criticize Adams for taking harsh measures, the blame rests with the Biden Administration for allowing a big increase in migrants with no thought, let alone attention, to how they would be housed and fed.

I have no way of ascertaining whether this is true, but I am told a new right wing trope is that wokeness is on its way out. The argument is that the big upsurge in visible US support for Palestinians is due to encouraging too much diversity of thought and staffing. The fact that even big blue cities are pushing back against the migrant influx due to the strain on budgets and services is allegedly another blow to that agenda.

By Gwynne Hogan and Michael Elsen-Rooney, Chalkbeat. Originally published at THE CITY on Oct 17, 2023

A migrant couple waits in line Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This article is part of an ongoing collaboration between Chalkbeat and THE CITY.

Mayor Eric Adams announced two striking policy shifts for migrant families with children on Monday afternoon, in his latest attempt to get people to leave city shelters and discourage new arrivals from coming into them.

City Hall said it would begin distributing notices to families with children telling them they had to leave and reapply for shelter after 60 days, while families with children entering the system would be sent to a cavernous tent shelter at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn when it opens in the coming weeks. Until now, migrant families with children have been placed in individual hotel rooms spread out across the city.

Removed from the nearby neighborhoods of Marine Park and Flatlands, the flood-prone and marshy Floyd Bennett Field, a former airfield, is about a five-mile trip from the nearest schools.

In a press release, the administration called the forthcoming facility there a “semi-congregate setting,” saying that “privacy dividers with locks will be installed to provide approximately 500 families with children a place to stay.”

Other than as a brief emergency measure after Hurricane Sandy, the city hasn’t placed families with children in congregate settings since the 1980s, according to Josh Goldfein with the Legal Aid Society, a practice they fought to ban because of the dangers children face in such settings, like their vulnerability to sexual abuse.

While the city said that the notices would go out to migrant families, it would need state permission to send those to people who are currently staying in shelters overseen by the Department of Homeless Services.

The city would need a state waiver in order to dole those notices shelters overseen by the Department of Homeless Services, which is where the majority of migrant families reside. City Hall Spokesperson Charles Lutvak said they were working closely with state agencies but declined to say if the city had been granted such a waiver.

The new plan comes as the Adams administration has gone to court to try and suspend the city’s decades-old right to shelter for adults.

The Coalition for the Homeless and the Legal Aid Society slammed the city’s new plans.

“To be denied safe shelter after 60 days is devoid of any humanity and is a stain on our city’s long-standing reputation as a welcoming home for all,” said Redmond Haskins, a spokesperson for the two groups. “Private rooms, not open cubicles, are needed to ensure the safety of families with children and to reduce the transmission of infectious disease, among other obvious reasons.”

Haskins said they would consider seeking an injunction if the announcement violated a 2008 consent decree which dictates the rights families have in shelters, or other local regulations.

Sending families to the Floyd Bennett tent when it opens is “the best of bad options,” said an administration source not authorized to speak to reporters.

“The alternative may be people genuinely sleeping on the sidewalk,” the source said.

Unhappy New Year?

Adams’ announcement comes a month and a half into the new school year, with around 26,000 migrant students enrolled in public schools, who may have to move into shelters far from where they are enrolled. Depending on when the city begins distributing 60-day notices to families, they’re likely to begin expiring in the final week of the year.

While the city said the eviction notes would be accompanied by “multiple touchpoints with case workers over their 60 days to discuss their options and plan their next steps,” the news weighed heavily on some who learned about it through THE CITY.

Venezuelan migrant Jose Meneses, 35, said his 11-year-old daughter was finally adjusting to her new school a short walk from their shelter in Sheepshead Bay.

“It would be so traumatic for the kids, they just started to study,” he said in Spanish. “We left our country, the whole journey, and she’s just newly starting to integrate. It would be a huge trauma.”

It’s a terrible decision for parents to make mid-year, said Franklin Headley, the principal of VOICE Charter School in Long Island City where nearly 300 migrants are enrolled.

“Children build relationships with teachers and peers,” he said. “That’s going to be a hard decision for the families: do they interrupt the year and those relationships, or do they have to figure out a…form of transportation for their child?”

Jennifer Pringle, project director at Advocates for Children, a group that advocates for the city’s most vulnerable students, said trying to coordinate school buses for homeless families after they’re moved to a different shelter has historically proven a lengthy and complicated process.

“Now on top of that you’re going to have the additional chaos of having families reapply for shelter placement every 60 days,” she said. “It’s going to be very destabilizing.”

‘The Only Way To Help’

While the city had taken various steps to force adult migrants to leave city shelters — moving them from hotel rooms with beds to vacant gyms, office spaces, tents, and warehouses with cots, and later reducing the amount of time they could stay in any one placement to 30 days before they have to return to the arrival center and apply for a new placement — it had until now refrained from deploying those tactics on families with kids.

Despite that, such families account for about 75% of the 63,015 migrants in shelters, according to data provided by the administration to the City Council last month, with 13,553 families living in 161 hotels across the five boroughs.

The state’s Office of Temporary Disability Administration, which oversees traditional Department of Homeless Services shelters, had thus far denied the city’s request to allow the city to issue 60-day notices at facilities it oversees. The majority of migrant families — 8,143 of 13,553 — were in facilities overseen by DHS, and thus would be spared from 60-day notices without further movement from OTDA. The office didn’t return multiple requests for comment over several days.

The 60-day notices will certainly target the roughly 4,200 families staying in so-called Humanitarian Resource and Relief Centers, or HERRCS, overseen by the city’s Health and Hospitals system, which are not overseen by OTDA. The city started opening up this new type of family shelter last October, starting in large midtown hotels including the Row, the Stewart, the Watson and the Roosevelt.

THE CITY reported last month that administration officials were mulling imposing 60-day deadlines on families with children, and the Daily News reported on Friday that the new rule was going to be announced imminently.

“For over a year, New York City has led the response to this national crisis, but significant additional resources, coordination, and support are needed from all levels of government,” Adams said in a statement. “With over 64,100 asylum seekers still in the city’s care, and thousands more migrants arriving every week, expanding this policy to all asylum seekers in our care is the only way to help migrants take the next steps on their journeys.”

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  1. Pat

    My disdain for Adams is bottomless, but I do feel the need to point out that Chuck Schumer is busily “leading” a congressional delegation to show support of Israel, while my Levi Strauss heir Ivy League lawyer Congressman is sending out newsletters focusing on these trying times, terrorism and Israel. Hochul is having to deal with some of the fallout, but Adams truly is getting the worst of it here in NY. And he appears to be the only state Democrat who has also realized that the sanctuary position is no longer a winner in the state and is increasingly dead in the city. From reactions Chicago is facing the same disintegration of support.
    It is very easy to take a principled position when there is no cost to it. DC has a bubble all its own, which leads to wars where the only result for some there is they make a boat load of money. Immigration has been largely similar for Northern State delegations. That is changing. Too slowly for the migrants who are here and on their way.
    NY and other cities should have been sending a good portion on to DC months ago. But November of next year is still too far away to encourage immediate action without that.

    (It may not be fair that these people are political footballs, but unfortunately as with most everything, people are disposable to our elected officials and the persons that own them.)

  2. Hypocritical Officeoath

    Strange how the politicians named above, plus many more,
    are all for open borders in the United States, but not in Israel?

  3. bdy

    For a city of ~19m, 63k should be a drop in the bucket — especially when compared to what the weather promises is coming.

    When climate migration really hits, the cities left standing are going to face the prospects of 1) exponential population growth, putting newcomers to work at expanding and hardening infrastructure; 2) forcibly keeping outsiders away; 3) sticky gray areas between one and two.

    At some point (2050? 2075? 2030?) it will be millions upon millions of of Floridians, Texans, Californians and dare I say New Yorkers piling onto the displaced peoples from south of the border to descend on god knows where . . . St Paul? Yakima? Bloomington? Tucson?

    The fact that a relatively small influx sends Metropolis into a political tailspin doesn’t bode well for Team Welcome Mat. If you’re hanging a “sanctuary” shingle put your money where your mouth is ffs. Mobilize capital and and prep for guests.

    1. Jake

      Remember NY was already dealing with a major homeless problem, it was just that they had enough shelter space before the bussing of immigrants started. Cities are not able to absorb all of these issues the federal government creates. The more capital and prep that Adams does, the more people will be sent to NY by border states that have been bearing the brunt of the open borders problems for many years already.

  4. Pavel

    Are we going to see AOC in a white outfit wailing away on camera outside this cavernous tent or does she only do that on the southern border when Trump is president? Nothing has gotten better since Biden came in, and NYC and Chicago and DC only really wake up when the migrants appear in their cities. Not a peep from them when 10 times as many entered and settled in TX and AZ.

    And what happened with Border Czar Kamala? The Repubs will have a field day with her if they have to run against her in 2024.

    Nothing is easy about this situation especially after a century of the USA meddling in Central and South American (assassinations, propping up dictators, economic warfare, literal warfare…). But when they arrive in the US after a dangerous (esp for women and girls) journey and often being forced to pay a huge debt to the cartels… And disrupting the already-troubled downtowns, overloading schools and hospitals, and taking minimum-wage jobs from locals. What a mess.

    As for the NYC migrants, I suggest starting by putting them up in all the empty flats on Billionaire’s Row.

  5. Societal Illusions

    and that can only lead to the eventual downfall. Hubris creates outcomes.

    These outcomes seem to be successfully dodged or minimized or spin or removed. Until the next one, where it is rinse and repeat. How long can this keep going on? Maybe forever,
    or until it doesn’t anyway.

  6. LAS

    I have seen new immigrants in NYC and they are not like the debilitated home grown homeless people. They are young, healthy, and straight (not on drugs/alcohol). Something constructive might be done with these people. Only it probably won’t be done — due to lack of imagination and political realities, only barriers are devised. With a little imagination, this could be an energetic workforce for good. But no, for each and anyone of them who finds a good outcome, there will be criticism about how they took an opportunity from someone else home grown or caused more or chain migration, yada, yada, yada.

    1. SocalJimObjects

      In the upcoming war with China, etc, the healthy young men will be conscripted in exchange for citizenship. That way, the natives won’t be bothered even if the death toll is high. “Innovative spirit” at work.

    2. ChrisPacific

      If the US could do that, it wouldn’t have the problem of debilitated home grown homeless in the first place.

    3. JBird4049

      Just as the United States has consumed its own people and excreted the remains, so too will do with any and all new chumps citizens.

      My worry is that when it really gets economically disastrous in the United States, these latest immigrants will be “encouraged” to leave at gun point, if the government keeps refusing to serve the American citizens who were already here.

  7. Paris

    I for one am glad my governor ships those illegals to the glorious sanctuary city of NY. Hope they can deal with the issue, good luck to y’all.

  8. Joe Well

    For decades, Dem voters wanted immigrants but not apartment buildings, because immigrants do not occupy three-dimensional space apparently.

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