HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — A former minimum-security state prison is the latest location in New York City that will be used to house migrants who continue to arrive from the southern border.
The Lincoln Correctional Facility, just north of Central Park, was closed in late 2019. It will reopen, likely by the end of the week, as yet another place for the city to put migrants.
New York City officials stress that migrants will not be placed in jail “cells.” The building has historically been much more than a prison and will act more or less as a place for adult migrants to be for a time until better placement is found.
Neighbors like Tyler Horrell said it is with mixed emotions they watched contractors furiously work to prepare the building.
“It’s great to utilize it for something,” Horrell said. “And it’s for a worthy cause.”
But he and other neighbors wonder where this urgency to help migrants was from the city and state to support tens of thousands of homeless and mentally ill New Yorkers.
“There’s a sector of people in every area who need help,” Horrell said. “I mean, I work with kids in the juvenile system, and just to have the resources for them just to keep them on the proper track is almost virtually impossible.”
A spokesman for the mayor’s office said more than 70,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City, with a majority still being cared for directly by New York. He said New York state suggested and authorized the use of Lincoln a few days ago.
The building has lived many lives. It was previously the Young Women’s Hebrew Association. Before that, it was housing for U.S. troops during World War II, and used as a facility for the New York City school system, before most recently operating as a minimum-security correctional facility.
New York City officials said it will serve as a “respite center” for adult asylum seekers.
At an event in Buffalo, Gov. Kathy Hochul said it should house up to 500 people.
“We are also looking at a hangar at JFK and waiting for federal approval for that,” Hochul said. “We have really been focused on all of the state assets, including SUNY dorms, and psychiatric centers, and anywhere we can find space.”