Sat, 03 Dec 2022

As Shelters Fill, New York City Weighs Tents to House Migrants

Voice of America
25 Sep 2022, 17:05 GMT+10

New York - New York City's mayor says he plans to erect hangar-sized tents as temporary shelter for thousands of international migrants who have been bused into the Big Apple as part of a campaign by Republican governors to disrupt federal border policies.

The tents are among an array of options - from using cruise ships to summer camps - the city is considering as it struggles to find housing for an estimated 13,000 migrants who have wound up in New York after being bused north from border towns in Texas and Arizona.

'This is not an everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach,' New York Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Thursday.

FILE - Eduardo Garcia from Venezuela, on crutches, stands with his family outside the Catholic Charities headquarters, in New York, Aug. 16, 2022. New York City's mayor says he plans to erect hangar-sized tents as temporary shelters for thousands of international migrants who have been bused into the city as part of a campaign by Republican governors to disrupt federal border policies. FILE - Eduardo Garcia from Venezuela, on crutches, stands with his family outside the Catholic Charities headquarters, in New York, Aug. 16, 2022. New York City's mayor says he plans to erect hangar-sized tents as temporary shelters for thousands of international migrants who have been bused into the city as part of a campaign by Republican governors to disrupt federal border policies.

New York City's huge system of homeless shelters has been straining to accommodate the unexpected new flow of migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

In Arizona and Texas, officials have loading people on buses for free trips to Washington and New York City. More recently, Florida, which has a Republican governor running for reelection, flew migrants - at public cost - to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Adams said the city had opened 23 emergency shelters - and was considering 38 more - to handle the people bused into the city since May. The city also recently opened a new, multimillion-dollar intake center to help the newcomers quickly get settled.

A rendering of the likely design of the tent facility, released by the city, showed rows and rows of cots. Presumably, the tent would be heated, as autumn nights in the city can be quite cool, but the city released few details.

City officials said these facilities - which they call 'humanitarian emergency response and relief centers - would house migrants for only up to four days while the city arranged other types of shelter.

FILE - Axel Coronado, center, listens to a conversation between brothers Leonardo Oviedo, left, and Angel Mota, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York. Coronado has been staying at a New York City shelter after fleeing Venezuela to escape his country's regime and to seek a better a life in the United States. FILE - Axel Coronado, center, listens to a conversation between brothers Leonardo Oviedo, left, and Angel Mota, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York. Coronado has been staying at a New York City shelter after fleeing Venezuela to escape his country's regime and to seek a better a life in the United States.

Advocates for the homeless were unsure how to react.

'We just don't have enough detail' to form an opinion, said Josh Goldfein, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society. 'If the goal here is to sort of quickly assess what people need and get them connected to services that will help them, then that will be great.'

But he said the proposal has yet to be fleshed out.

'All we know is a location and a picture of a big tent,' he said.

In a joint statement, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said they were working with city officials to come up with 'a viable solution that satisfies New York's legal and moral obligation to provide safe and adequate shelter to all who seek it, including asylum-seekers.'

Earlier this month, Adams had suggested housing hundreds of migrants on cruise ships.

Critics pounced on that idea, saying he needs to offer more lasting solutions to a problem that has long vexed the city: how to find permanent shelter for the city's unhoused - not just new migrants but for the considerable population of the homeless.

Overall, the number of people staying nightly in New York City's homeless shelters had fallen in recent years, partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That led city officials to reduce shelter capacity, leaving the system unprepared for the sudden surge in people needing help.

Advocates for the homeless were unsure how to react.

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