NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s mayor says he plans to erect shed-sized tents as temporary shelter for thousands of international migrants who have been bused to the Big Apple as part of a campaign by Republican governors to disrupt federal border policies.
The tents are among a range of options — from using cruise ships to summer camps — the city is considering as it struggles to find housing for about 13,000 immigrants drawn to New York after being transported north from border towns in Texas and Arizona. .
“This is not an everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Thursday.
New York’s vast system of homeless shelters is straining to accommodate the unexpected new influx of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.
In Arizona and Texas, officials are loading people onto buses for free trips to Washington and New York. More recently, Florida, where a Republican governor is running for re-election, transported immigrants – at public expense – to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Adams said the city has opened 23 emergency shelters — and is considering 38 more — to handle people who have been bussed into the city since May. The city also recently opened a new multimillion-dollar immigration center to help newcomers settle in quickly.
The first scene has been proposed for a remote corner of the Bronx, a parking lot at a popular city beach on Long Island Sound where public transportation is limited. Officials are investigating other areas as well.
A rendering of the facility’s potential design, released by the city, showed rows and rows of swings. Apparently, the tent would be heated, as autumn nights in the city can be quite chilly, but the city released few details.
City officials said those facilities — which they call “emergency humanitarian response and assistance centers — would only house migrants for up to four days while the city arranged for other types of shelters.
Homeless advocates weren’t sure how to react.
“We just don’t have enough details of what their plan is to form an opinion,” said Josh Goldfein, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society. “If the goal here is to quickly assess what people need and connect them with services that will help them, then that will be great.”
However, he said the proposal has not yet been finalized.
“All we know is a location and an image of a large scene,” he said. “We don’t know what it will be – or who.”
In a joint statement, the Legal Aid Society and the Homeless Coalition said they are working with city officials to reach “a viable solution that satisfies New York’s legal and moral obligation to provide safe and adequate shelter to all who are looking for. including asylum seekers’.
Earlier this month, Adams floated the idea of housing hundreds of migrants on cruise ships.
Critics have attacked that idea, saying it should offer longer-term solutions to a problem that has long plagued the city: How to find permanent shelter for the city’s homeless — not just new immigrants but the significant homeless population .
Overall, the number of people staying nightly in New York City’s homeless shelters had declined in recent years, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That led city officials to reduce shelter capacity, leaving the system unprepared for the sudden surge in people needing help.