RANDALLS ISLAND, Manhattan (PIX11) — On its first night of operation, the new Migrant housing facility on Randalls Island welcomes at least two men from south of the border.
They arrived earlier in the day Wednesday. But Venezuelan migrants who arrived in New York City seven days ago tell PIX11 News Wednesday they had no idea that the Randalls Island facility is up and running.
The large white tents have a maximum capacity of 1-thousand people. However, for now, city officials are capping the intake to 500 – for men only.
There are phones connected to several South American countries, televisions, sofas – even a gaming area.
This is the city’s second site choice. It faced major logistical issues and stiff community opposition to a proposed location in a flood-prone parking lot in the Bronx.
City officials argue that this short-term setting is a better way to assist migrants.
“We have a goal here of trying to see if we can find out with you where you want to go in about 96 hours. That’s much better than 45 minutes at port authority,” said Dr. Ted Long of NYC Health + Hospitals. “45-minutes is not enough time to reach a family member who you may not have spoken with in days, weeks, months, or years – figure out where you’re going to be for the next several years of your life. You need more time. And that’s what we’re going to do here.”
But migrant community advocate Ariadna Phillips says the Adams Administration’s latest choice will only end up warehousing those desperate for long-term stability.
“This is a distraction. This is not a solution. The city needs to be involved with the state, at the federal level, with hud, and with the number of agencies. If we can find hundreds of millions of dollars for a stadium in Buffalo, we can figure this out here in new york city. But we really need to bring everybody together and make this about housing first,” said Phillips.