Line of asylum seekers moved from outside Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, August 4, 2023
Line of migrants moved from outside Midtown hotel
The line of migrants waiting for days outside the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown is finally gone, but the ongoing crisis to find them permanent shelter remains. CeFaan Kim has the story.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The line of migrants waiting for days outside the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown is finally gone, but the ongoing crisis to find shelter for the influx of asylum seekers remains.

Mayor Eric Adam's Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack said the city was able to move about 130 migrants from in front of the hotel Wednesday night to a church in Long Island City, Queens.

"We've talked about a faith-based bed program," Varlack said. "We were able to connect with a church that had availability so we could move approximately 130 asylum seekers into that location."

Video in the media player above is from a previous report

It is the first time since Saturday that asylum seekers were not sleeping outside the hotel, which serves as a migrant welcome center. But despite clearing the area outside the hotel, the city still has a lot of work to do to find a more permanent housing solution as migrants continue to pour in.

City officials said they were expecting one more bus with migrants to come in from Texas on Thursday night.

"As we have emphasized repeatedly, with nearly 100,000 asylum seekers that have come through our intake system since spring 2022 and hundreds more continuing to arrive in our city asking for shelter on a daily basis, New York City has been left alone to deal with a national crisis that demands difficult and swift decision-making," a spokesperson for Mayor Adams said.

ALSO READ | Line of migrants sleeping outside stretches around Roosevelt Hotel's Midtown block

The Mayor's Office says more than 93,000 asylum seekers have come through the city's intake system since last spring. Sonia Rincon has more.

The scene outside the former hotel has underscored the extreme overcrowding in a homeless housing system filled to record levels.

Ted Long of the city's Health + Hospitals said the city will "do everything in our power to avoid forming a line again" outside the hotel.

He said that if a line forms again, it's because the city "exhausted all options we can and we need the federal government to help."

To that end, the Mayor's Office on Thursday said that an undisclosed number of asylum seekers will be placed in the McCarren Recreation Center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Varlack said the city found space in ballrooms as well.

"I mean we look for every single space we can. If you see a line outside it is because we have done everything we possibly can to find something," Varlack said.

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said she thinks the city will have to look at Central Park and Prospect Park, and other places.

But not every place has been an ideal situation, according to some communities in Manhattan.

In the basement of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament on the Upper West Side, frustrations and concerns over safety as a result of migrants being housed nearby, dominated a community meeting.

They say some of the asylum seekers being housed at The Stratford Arms on 70th Street are destroying their neighborhood. The community has complained of drug use, noise complaints and out-of-control e-bikes.

Meanwhile, the Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless says they will be in court at 11 a.m. on Friday for an "emergency court conference on the right to shelter."

"Earlier this week, we warned the city of imminent litigation should new arrivals and other New Yorkers in need of shelter continue to languish on local streets, particularly in front of the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan," the Legal Aid Society said in a joint statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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