New York City, NY

Former Harlem Prison to Temporarily House Migrants

Anne Spollen
The Lincoln Correctional Facility in HarlemPhoto byJim.henderson - Own work, Public Domain

A former state prison, with the capacity to hold 275 inmates, is going to be used to shelter some of the flood of New York City migrants. The Lincoln Correctional Facility is a 10,000 square-foot, eight-story building in Harlem, near Central Park. It will be the first jail or prison in New York state utilized to house asylum-seekers. The prison has been shut since 2019.

"We’re grateful to the state for providing this site and partnering with the city to open this space as a temporary site for asylum seekers as New York City continues to face this humanitarian crisis,” a City Hall representative said.

“We’ve had over 70,000 asylum seekers come through the city’s intake centers since last spring,” the representative said. “And yet hundreds of asylum seekers continue to arrive in New York City every day."

In a statement issued from Governor Kathy Hochul’s office, in a statement, she noted her administration is permitting the city to use the site as a temporary shelter following a review of available state-owned properties that could accommodate migrants. “In recent weeks, as Title 42 expired, the Governor directed her team to visit every available state-owned property, assess their feasibility for sheltering asylum seekers and offer suitable sites to the city for their use,” Hochul’s office said. “The city and state have agreed to use 31-33 W 110th Street in Manhattan, one of the State-owned properties we identified, as a temporary respite center for asylum seekers, and we have begun the process to transform the space, so it is appropriately welcoming.”

This repurposing of the site for migrants is a departure from Hochul's plans only two months ago. In March, her office released a request for proposals for a redevelopment of the site that would create jobs, increase revenue for both New York State and the city, and provide affordable housing. Hochul states these plans have not changed, and her planned development of the property will move forward.

“This is a temporary and short-term use of Lincoln, and the State’s plans for the site continue to be to move forward in the months ahead to redevelop it as affordable housing,” they said. “We continue to join our partners at all levels of government to call for a permanent, federal solution to this crisis.”

The swells of recent asylum-seekers have placed significant stress on public resources for New Yorkers. Hochul recently commended their arrival, stating they will provide a much-needed labor source for many farming and janitorial jobs in New York.

Mayor Adams has estimated that the daily cost of caring for the influx is approximately $5 million per day.

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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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