SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn (PIX11) — Neighbors have set up a makeshift welcome center outside the Sunset Park Recreation Center, one of the newest locations housing asylum seekers in New York City.
Volunteers on Sunday were distributing clothes and personal care items. They are accepting donations as well. Alexander Rapaport, executive director of Masbia Soup Kitchen in Brooklyn, helped to create the welcome area.
“It’s real New York, neighbors to neighbors, giving a welcoming vibe,” said Rapaport. “That’s the idea. And that’s what this tent stands for.”
Neighbors also wrote welcome messages in Spanish on poster boards and with sidewalk chalk.
“Spaces like this, community spaces, are just a great opportunity for people to get what they need so that they can live the lives that they dream of,” said Barry Gray, who contributed to the artwork.
New York City is directly caring for more than 56,000 asylum seekers. In total, 95,000 have arrived in the last year. Saturday marked one year since the first bus arrived from Texas.
State Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes was also on hand Sunday, talking with some of the asylum seekers. She wants the city to focus on more permanent housing solutions.
“We need to talk about how we’re going to keep people in their homes and what are we going to do about the long-term affordability that everyday New Yorkers need,” said Mitaynes.