NEW YORK (PIX11) — Mayor Eric Adams is declaring a state of emergency around the migrant and shelter system crisis.
Adams said Friday New York City’s shelters are at nearly 100% capacity. He is calling for help from President Joe Biden all the way down to everyday New Yorkers.
“This is not sustainable,” Adams said.
More than 17,000 asylum seekers have arrived since April with 5,500 migrant children now enrolled in public schools.
He ticked through the numbers showing 61,000 people are being housed in the city’s shelter system. Adams said one-third are children and more than 12,000 are migrants, who continue to arrive hundreds at a time from the Texas border each day.
Adams said at this pace New Yorkers will spend $1 billion on migrant relief efforts by next summer. He wants more money from the federal government, he wants more state resources to house the asylum seekers, and he wants churches and other community groups to figuratively adopt local shelters to provide support.
Plus, Adams wants asylum-seekers to be able to work immediately to support themselves, instead of the current law of waiting six months.
Finally, Adams is not backing down on plans to build giant tent and trailer encampment to help house migrants — even declaring the state of emergency to cut the red tape and make setting up tent facilities like the one at Randall’s Island easier.
However, like the original plan at Orchard Beach, the new site is another transit desert with some flooding concerns.
The New York City Council has grown particularly critical of tents, suggesting hotels would be better suited. But to his critics, Adams came out swinging on Friday.
“People need to stop criticizing and step up. That is where we are right now,” Adams said before even taking a question.
The mayor said the city is already using 42 hotels to help house asylum seekers, and he said city council members who are telling him to use more hotels have not been specific nor helpful.
“Can you ask the city council where is the list because we can’t get it,” Adams chided.
Late Friday, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams sent the list to reporters featuring ten hotels that appeared not to be operating or permanently closed — with 4,000 beds.
“…we reject the mayor’s argument at the council has been unhelpful during the crisis,” the Speaker said in a statement.
She said the hotels were identified with limited staff resources and publicly available data, implying that the mayor with his more substantial resources, could have easily identified the hotels himself.
Homeless advocates said it’s unfair to blame overflowing shelters on the influx of asylum seekers. Instead, it’s a crisis years in the making borne out of the lack of affordable housing.
Jacquelyn Simone is Policy Director at the Coalition for the Homeless. “The city keeps proposing these rather far-fetched ideas like tents and cruise ships and what we really need is permanent housing for people and that’s where we really think the administration should be focusing their efforts,” said Simone.
“So many people are forced to wait for months in shelters before they’re even found eligible for the city housing vouchers and then even after people have found an apartment and a landlord who’s willing to rent to them, it often takes several more months for people to move into that apartment because of bureaucratic delays and administrative red tape,” said Simone.
Meanwhile, Governor Gregg Abbott of Texas is doubling down, tweeting new York city is only experiencing a fraction of what border communities in his state face. and he will continue to send migrants here.
“Our social services and our values are being exploited by others for political gain,” said Adams. “New Yorkers are angry. I am angry, too.”