New York City struggles with shelter and food for arriving migrants as Mayor Adams faces backlash
From a lack of space to food running low. New York is scrambling to find answers.
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It has been nearly four months since Texas Governor Greg Abbott first began rounding up migrants arriving in the country along the U.S. Southern border, and putting them on buses heading to major Democratic cities.
The first buses went to New York City, and then later on D.C., and Chicago. All three are still coping with the arrival of migrants.
New York City has seen the biggest influx of migrants of all the cities. According to city officials, upwards to 16,000 just this year have been taken in.
It’s a huge figure that according to NYC Mayor Eric Adams, is “undermining” their already fragile economy as well as the city’s shelter system. Adams has been under fire for his actions or lack thereof, during the migrant crisis. Finding shelter for the more than 16,000 migrants has been hard to come by with a city already dealing with overcrowding.
“This is undermining our economy and is undermining our attempt to recover in our cities that were already dealing with crises, from COVID to monkeypox, to crime, to housing,” Adams told Spectrum News/NY.
Adams had begun construction on an emergency tent city shelter that was going to be located in the parking lot of Orchard Beach in the Bronx, but due to heavy rainfall brought on by the remnants of Hurricane Ian, the lot was flooded and the construction was canceled. It will now be moved to Randall's Island, an area filled with ball fields and institutional buildings in between Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens. Officials have also suggested mid-level hotels, and empty buildings as possible housing.
Adams has also been under fire for using the already thinning resources for every day New Yorkers on migrants.
“I'm not going to pit everyday New Yorkers against migrants and I'm not going to take away resources that we have to really allocate for everyday New Yorkers,” Adams said. “This is a national problem, it needs national response, and that is why we call on Washington to respond to this on a national level.”
According to Adams, the new complex will still open at the original timeframe, which is as soon as this week. It will accommodate over 500 people, which is half of the amount that the beach lot would have been able to accommodate. The mayor has not been transparent about just how much this migrant crisis will cost the city in taxpayer money. He has even called on Washington to intervene and help with what he has called a “humanitarian crisis.”
In addition to this, the city is also looking into using cruise ships to help with the sheltering of the migrants. Administration officials have been in talks with executives at Norwegian Cruise Line in hopes of making a deal happen sooner rather than later as more migrants could be on the way. Adams said on Monday, Oct. 3 that he would announce a deal once it was complete.
“We are going to continue to look at every opportunity to resolve this humanitarian crisis that human beings have created,” he said.
To add insult to injury, with the lack of shelter, food has also become its own crisis as the shelters are low on food and milk for mothers of young babies and children. NBC New York first broke last week that in most of the shelters, food and milk have been hard to come by as rations run critically low.
With firsthand accounts from mothers, and other migrants living in the shelters about the food crisis, food pantries across the city have high demand with low supplies to accommodate all.
The homeless shelters serve small meals, but no baby food or formula for the many children and babies under 12 months old that are coming in. Parents, and mothers only receive an eight-ounce container of milk per baby, per day. If the milk is expiring, mothers told NBC New York that they get extra in that instance, but are not given refills if the children are still hungry.
After the initial news broke about the issue, Adams said he would speak to social services about the issue but according to NYC Comptroller Brad Lander, who contacted New York City Hall about it and was surprised to hear that the Adams Administration was not investigating anything specific in relation to the reports.
"City Hall does not seem to be taking seriously the alarming reports of certain shelters failing to meet the basic nutritional needs of infants and children. We have reached out to the administration to express our concern, and are disturbed that City Hall is not investigating these specific reports," Lander told NBC New York.
The city responded in a statement: "The health and safety of our clients are our top priorities" and that those living in the shelters are regularly getting meals that meet the guidance of health experts.”
"These families and individuals are coming to us after a harrowing months-long journey which could result in severe malnourishment, and we are committed to making sure that we are prioritizing their recovery while working with them to help stabilize their lives in a new country. We take any concerns of food shortages at shelter sites very seriously and are committed to investigating any such concerns," the statement continued.
In the time since, the Department of Social Services has released a statement that did not tackle any specifics about the current state of affairs in regards to food scarcity other than that they are working around the clock to make sure that the thousands of asylum seekers are being sheltered and fed.
"We ensure that all shelters serving families with children are receiving adequate and appropriate food provisions for all infants on site," the DSS said.