First migrants expected to arrive at Floyd Bennett Field

Janice Yu Image
Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Floyd Bennett Field is expected to open to its first migrants
Janice Yu has the story from Brooklyn.

BROOKLYN, New York (WABC) -- New York City opened a massive relief shelter for migrants at Floyd Bennett Field, which was once the city's first municipal airport.

The first migrants are expected to arrive Tuesday, even as local leaders express concerns about safety.

The shelter is ready for the first 500 people to move in, but it can house up to 2,000 family members.

The newest relief shelter is being considered the best of a bad list of options to address the migrant crisis.

"We're approaching $2 billion this year, that's $1 billion more than anticipated," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "As my budget director said, that rate is unsustainable."

Hochul said they cannot continue to pay for unlimited hotel rooms for people and congregant settings are the way to go.

It's a stark contrast from hotel rooms in Manhattan, but there are four main areas at Floyd Bennett Field. The first tent is the intake, behind that is the cafeteria which is open 24/7. Next are the bathroom and shower trailers and finally the dormitories have pods for families.

"We're having to create this site because we don't have space at any other site, so it will fill up as fast as people come to us, it could be a matter of days, it could be a matter of weeks," said Dr. Ted Long, Senior VP of NYC Health + Hospitals.

As a part of the agreement, the state will reimburse the city for the cost of using the site.

Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have been pushing for the use of federal land, but the decision over where to house the migrants continues to cause controversy.

Adams says the site is safe, but local leaders have expressed concerns following an FDNY inspection.

Republican Councilmember Joann Ariola posted on social media saying, "Bennett Field is not only a flood zone, but it is a fire trap now as well. Placing children here is unconscionable. This is absolutely a catastrophe waiting to happen - 'not reliable' fire hydrants nearly a half mile away and lithium-ion powered mobility devices in the area is a recipe for disaster."

Governor Hochul and city leaders say they are doing the best they can given the current resources.

"We want to do what we can the best we can to mitigate flood. To mitigate fire. To mitigate transportation. So what are the options that we have? And they're not the best options but we also don't want people out in the street. We also want to remember that we have human beings," NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Adams says the city is out of room and at full capacity.

"This is what we have been trying to say, what is it going to take before people start to learn what out of room means," Adams said. "We are placing people in conditions that are unfair for migrants and it's unfair for New York City taxpayers."

Migrants will be able to stay for 60 days now that the city has limited how much time they are allowed to stay in a city shelter.

"We can't be talking about taking rights away, we need to put pressure on the governor and the White House to let other folks deal with the responsibility that will loosen up so much of the pressure and the tension that we have," said Jumaane Williams.

The city is prioritizing its available space for families with children, and looking at setting up tent communities in parks and other large open spaces for other incoming asylum seekers.

The city has processed more than 130,000 asylum seekers since spring 2022 and the city is currently housing more than 65,000 at its various shelters.

WATCH | How cold and snowy will it be this winter? Get the NYC-area long-range forecast | Weather or Not

Will New York City actually get more than a couple of inches of snow this winter? We have the latest thinking from AccuWeather.


* More Brooklyn news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.