QUEENS VILLAGE, Queens (PIX11) — If City Hall and neighbors in eastern Queens see eye to eye on one thing, it’s that the latest migrant tent site is a terrible option. But Mayor Eric Adams continues to say he’s out of options.
Meanwhile, the first buses arrived Tuesday night at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village, dropping off 100 single men like, Sebastian Ferro, 30, after fleeing Colombia.
The tent is Ferro’s fourth shelter in three boroughs since seeking asylum in the United States last year.
“I found jobs cleaning, demolition, sheetrock, different things, but it’s not stable,” Ferro said, estimating he makes $300 in cash a week on average.
The latest accommodations he’s moved into are in a remote neighborhood on Hillside Avenue. It’s not ideal for making money and commuting to Manhattan, but it’s better than the alternative, Ferro said.
“Staying here is much better than Colombia,” Ferro added.
Mike Sobotka owns the Denny’s restaurant a few hundred feet down the road. He’s welcoming workers, so long as it’s legal for them to do so.
“What needs to change is the federal government needs to give them work authorization,” Sobatka said.
City Hall admitted Tuesday that the tent facility, which has capacity for 1,000 men, is the “bottom of the barrel” when it comes to housing migrants. But city officials say it’s the best they can do with the limited options and only $146 million in federal help.
“It’s a question of, do you want people sleeping on the street? Or do you want people sleeping on a cot?” said Fabien Levy, the newly appointed deputy mayor of communications.
Currently there are 200 shelter sites across New York City. Its accommodated 100,000 asylum seekers so far. And it’s cost taxpayers about $383 a night, per migrant family. That’s a $4 billion bill annually, according to the mayor.
Residents in Bellerose and Queens Village are up in arms over their new neighbors – fearful of the unknown.
“This is a toxic mix for this community,” said Arlene Slessenger.
On Wednesday night, hundreds of residents plan to protest for the second time and stage acts of civil disobedience. Some of them told PIX11 News they are planning on getting arrested to try and make their point.