The city will house a number of asylum-seekers at the McCarren Park Play Center as soon as this weekend, local pols announced Thursday.
Roughly 80 adults will soon move into one wing of the rec center, according to a joint statement released by Borough President Antonio Reynoso, state Senator Kristen Gonzalez, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, and council members Lincoln Restler and Jennifer Gutiérrez. The city informed the elected officials of the plan on the evening of Aug. 2.
“Over the past week, hundreds of men have slept on the street outside the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan,” the pols said in a statement. “As the homelessness and asylum seeker crisis continues to worsen, it’s the responsibility of every community to open its doors and provide shelter to those in greatest need.”
Public access to the pool and fitness center should not be impacted, and additional security will be provided “to ensure everyone’s safety,” the statement said. It was not immediately clear how long the rec center will be used as a shelter, or if it has adequate bathroom and kitchen facilities for 80 temporary residents.
More than 95,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since last spring, according to City Hall, and the city has struggled to find housing for them all. More than 50,000 are currently staying in New York City shelters.
Over the past few weeks, the crisis has reached a breaking point. On July 19, Mayor Eric Adams said the city would begin discouraging asylum-seekers at the southern border from traveling to New York City, and said there is “no more room in the city.” Earlier this week — as men were forced to sleep on the sidewalk outside the intake center at the Roosevelt Hotel — Gothamist reported the city was considering housing migrants in tents in city parks.
At an Aug. 2. press conference, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom did not confirm or deny whether the city is planning to open shelters in parks, but said officials are considering a list of more than 3,000 sites – including parks and public spaces — that could be used as shelters.
Asylum-seekers are already being housed in hotels and other temporary shelters across the borough. Earlier this year, the city temporarily lodged some migrants in school gyms in Coney Island and Park Slope — but relocated them after outcry from students and parents. In July, a 2,000-bed migrant shelter — the largest in city history — opened in Clinton Hill, according to news outlet The City. Asylum-seekers and advocates have reported poor conditions at some shelters. Last fall, advocates told Brooklyn Paper that migrants staying in a Prospect Heights hotel were not provided with adequate diapers or formula for babies, and were not always connected with the services they needed to find jobs or childcare.
City Hall did not immediately respond to request for comment.
“We will continue pushing to secure more appropriate facilities to house people in need and expedite moving New Yorkers from our shelter system into vacant permanent housing,” the Brooklyn pols said in a statement. “In the interim, we will do whatever we can to galvanize compassion and support for our new temporary neighbors.
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