New York City Council proposes housing asylum seekers in closed hotels, vacant churches

CeFaan Kim Image
Thursday, October 6, 2022
City Council proposes housing asylum seekers in hotels, churches
New York City Council members made a counter proposal Wednesday to use dozens of closed hotels to house asylum seekers. CeFaan Kim has the details.

ORCHARD BEACH, The Bronx (WABC) -- New York City Council members were not so hot on Mayor Eric Adam's new idea to house asylum seekers in a tent city at Randall's Island, so they presented some solutions of their own Wednesday night.

Mayor Adams announced this week that the city would move the migrant relief center from Orchard Beach in the Bronx, to Randall's Island after it faced opposition from both sides of the political spectrum.

But critics say the new location will still have the same old problems.

Randall's Island is in City Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala's district.

She says it also sits in a transit desert, isolating migrants from access to jobs, health care, schools, and legal services.

Video in player above is from a previous report

"It's an issue of accessibility and also concerns about possible flooding," Ayala said. "I believe the city has designated that space level three and that's concerning."

So City Council came up with a counter proposal Wednesday night to use dozens of closed hotels to house asylum seekers.

The council says there are over 15,000 available rooms which could provide jobs to hotel workers who are out of work.

The deputy speaker is also proposing temporarily housing migrants in vacant houses of worship like a massive church in East Harlem that's been shuttered for more than a decade.

"I think it's a good idea. People need a place to stay. Nobody should be left out in the street," resident Nicholas Hartley said.

"Using the churches originally intended as sanctuaries to house homeless period, migrants and otherwise has always been a good idea," resident Kurt Palonis said.

Mayor Adams said he's glad City Council came with some solutions to the humanitarian crisis.

"I'm glad they come in with the spirit of cooperation to come up with a solution. If we're going to critique what we're doing during this humanitarian crisis that was created by human hands, then we should come with great ideas if they have so specific hotels that they're talking about," Mayor Adams said. "Looking forward to sitting down with the council and council women Adrienne Adams House speaker and come up with those solutions."

As for Randall's island, the mayor says it's closer to transportation for the migrants than Orchard Beach, and doesn't have the same water issues and is more cost-effective to operate.

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