New York City, NY

Migrant Respite Centers Appearing Without Notice in NYC Neighborhoods

Anne Spollen

Simple respite centers are being created for migrants as the city's shelter system is reaching its breaking point. New York City Mayor Eric Adams' spokesperson released a statement on the respite centers saying, "We have already opened up more than 150 sites to shelter migrants. Respite sites have always been meant for very short-term use when we don't have a placement. These are basically temporary waiting rooms until we can find placements for asylum seekers when we have a massive influx of asylum seekers into our intake system and we run out of space. Our goal is to not use these sites, but like we've said, we continue to receive hundreds of migrants every day even though we are out of space. When we find an alternative placement, we move migrants."

Currently, an old martial arts gym, two churches, a vacant Manhattan office building, and a shuttered Staten Island school, the Richard H. Hungerford in Clifton, are serving as respite centers with very little notice to the surrounding communities. Some of the centers have no showering facilities, leaving shelter seekers without a place to bathe for days.

“It’s not an accommodation, it’s like a waiting room,” Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for Adams, told THE CITY. “They’re basically like waiting rooms until we can find a placement for somebody.”

Levy stated the city will provide a hotel room for any migrant willing to leave the city. “If they want to volunteer to go upstate, we’re not forcing anybody to do so,” Levy said.

Isaia Colina, a migrant from Venezuela, told NY1, "We’re here in this shelter. We don’t have anywhere to shower, we don’t have food. I’m here with my wife and my wife’s daughter. They haven’t slept in four days because they’re sleeping in cots. The hardest part about being here is to be without work. We don’t sleep well, any of us. Those that have become citizens are lucky, they’re in a stable place,” said Colina.

Earlier this week, Mayor Adams petitioned a judge to temporarily suspend the city's "right-to-shelter" law as New York City can no longer provide housing to everyone who needs it.

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Native Staten Islander, writer following the migrant crisis, urban issues, lifestyle topics, human interest, current events, and stories that resonate. Published novelist and essayist.

Staten Island, NY

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