Mayor Adams on Friday declared a state of emergency over the city’s migrant crisis and pleaded for financial and legislative assistance from federal and state lawmakers.
The statement will suspend certain land use requirements so the city can more quickly set up emergency housing for migrants, such as the controversial tented camp to be built on Randalls IslandAdams said in a speech at City Hall.
But the statement goes no further.
With more than 17,000 migrants from South and Central America currently in the city, the homeless shelter system is nearly at 100% capacity and social services are on the verge of collapse, a said Adams.
[ Cold, hungry, isolated. Migrants facing troubling conditions in Hell’s Kitchen hotel ]
“It’s burning through our budget,” he said, predicting the city will spend more than $1 billion on the crisis this fiscal year alone. “It’s unsustainable.”
As a result, Adams demanded that President Biden’s administration and Albany lawmakers do what they can to help, including allocating emergency funding and passing legislation that would expedite work permits for migrants. .
“It’s a time when everyone is on deck,” he said.
The massive influx of migrants has placed a heavy burden on the city’s homeless shelter system. This pressure has led to several apparent violations of the state’s Right to Housing Act, which requires the city to provide housing to anyone who seeks it within a prescribed time frame.
To ease the burden on shelters, Adams reported last week that he planned to house migrants in tents in a parking lot at Orchard Beach in the Bronx. But earlier this week it toppled over fears of flooding there. Instead, he chose to move the tent camps to Randalls Island.
In a statement released by the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless, which act as watchdogs regarding the Right to Housing Act, the groups criticized Adams for not investing more adequately in affordable housing, which would also ease the burden on shelters.
“It is the city’s historic shameful failure to adequately invest in affordable housing that continues to fuel mass homelessness,” they said in the statement. “We reaffirm our call for the city to abandon plans to build tent cities and instead focus on high-quality indoor shelter options and permanent housing.”
[ Thousands of migrants are pouring into NYC from Texas, straining a shaky shelter system. When will it hit a tipping point? ]
The politics of the situation are also in play Friday, here and in other states. Many of the migrants streaming into the city are from Texas. That state’s Governor, Greg Abbott, who is running for re-election, directed busloads of asylum seekers to the Big Apple to criticize Biden’s border policies.
Biden is also asking for a referendum on his effectiveness in the upcoming midterm elections in November. And Governor Hochul is also seeking re-election.
The mayor said he didn’t care about putting Democratic allies in a difficult spot politically.
“[Biden] understood the urgency of the momentAdams said, referring to his last conversation with the president. “Talking with the governor’s office, they understand the urgency of the situation. There was never a point where they said, “Eric, you know, we don’t want to engage in this conversation because it’s too political.” No, they didn’t at all.
He did not elaborate on how the state could help with providing places to house asylum seekers, but noted that “there are many places under the control of the A state that I think we should look into.”
“At this time, I will not divulge the exact locations,” he said. “As soon as we get their approval – the inspections indicating they are suitable for people inside – we will make an official announcement.”
At a press conference after his speech, Adams gave few details about which aspects of the city’s land use laws his administration intends to change. He said, however, the city does not plan to suspend its Uniform Land Use Review process as part of the process.
Bronx City Councilman Rafael Salamanca, who chairs the council’s land use committee, said he had “no idea” what specific land use requirements the mayor was targeting, but issued the speculation that the changes could involve the rezoning of industrial and commercial areas to house asylum seekers. That could mean renovating vacant warehouses to help ease the city’s burden, he said.
“My team is looking into the matter and we are contacting [the mayor] because we want to understand: what are you hanging up? said Salamanca.
New York City Corporation attorney Sylvia Hinds-Radix also didn’t offer many details regarding the suspension of land use requirements.
“It doesn’t suspend all of our municipal laws, just land use laws,” she said, adding that more details would be “coming soon.”
On Wednesday, Council President Adrienne Adams and several others Council members released a statement urging Hizzoner to consider vacant hotels as an option to house migrants. The Daily News asked at the time for a list of the hotels they were referring to, but the Council has still not made it public.
Before taking questions from reporters, Adams urged them to ask the Council why it has not yet released a list of potential hotels to house migrants.
“Can you ask the city council where the list is?” ” he said. “Because we can’t get it. They said there were ten hotels available and we should use them… People have to stop criticizing. They need to step up. »
Without calling anyone by name, Adams also criticized council members for asking the city to house migrants in hotels while telling his administration they did not want to house migrants in their council districts.
“I can’t tell you how many council members, local elected officials who are shouting, ‘house people,’ but saying, ‘not in my district,'” the mayor said. “You can’t have it both ways.”
Asked about cooperation with the city council and complaints that he had given little notice to council members Diana Ayala and Marjorie Velazquez, who represent Randalls Island and Orchard Beach respectively, Adams again appeared to point the finger at lawmakers, saying that his administration had been “communicating with them all the time about this.”
“There is a deafening silence coming from other parts of government,” he said. “It’s not one of those operations where we can sit down and analyze what’s going on. We had nine buses yesterday. We have eight buses today. We get hundreds of people coming here, and it’s going to require real-time movement. »
In an ironic twist, the city’s immigration affairs commissioner, Manuel Castro, suggested that many migrants in New York could end up in Florida. That state’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, also made waves weeks ago when he sent migrants at Martha’s Vineyard.
About a third of asylum seekers arriving in the city want to be resettled in other parts of the country, according to Castro. Many of those arriving in the city began their journey from Venezuela.
“The largest population of Venezuelans in the country is in Florida, and that’s where most people have indicated where they want to be,” he said. “It really depends on the individuals. We want to make sure that we help people get where they want to go.