BROOKLYN (WABC) -- New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Monday that Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn can now be used to house up to 2,500 asylum seekers.
The news came the same day New York City began transporting adult men to the new tent shelter on Randall's Island.
Both developments come as Mayor Eric Adams says more than 59,000 asylum seekers are currently in the city's care at more than 200 different sites.
"This is something we have been asking about, hoping for, for many many many months," Hochul said of the lease, which the state has not yet signed. "This is a big step because the answer one month ago was no, that this is land owned by the Department of Interior, National Parks, and they do not allow for use of shelter on any of their properties. So I'm viewing this as a significant development by the administration in Washington that we need more help here."
Hochul said housing migrants at large sites, like Floyd Bennett Field, makes it easier to help larger numbers fill out asylum forms, which will help get them on the path to finding legal work.
"They are the best accommodations that we can offer for us to be able to start moving single adults into those facilities....and start moving this system along," Hochul said. "Ultimately with the goal of helping people be stabilized, apply for asylum, and grant that right to work ."
The governor said the state will pay for the operation of Floyd Bennett Field.
Adams said he is grateful for the tentative agreement to move forward with the site, but there is still more work to be done.
"Let's be clear: because we haven't seen meaningful policy changes that would alter the course of this crisis, we've been forced to play an unsustainable game of 'whack-a-mole', opening new site after new site as asylum seekers continue to arrive by the thousands," Adams said. "We will continue to advocate for expedited work authorization for asylum seekers, a federal declaration of emergency, and a national and state decompression strategy, and we're committed to making today's announcement the beginning of a new era of enhanced partnership between our local, state, and federal governments."
The much-needed breathing room in Brooklyn comes as the governor announced a $20 million state investment to speed up casework for 30,000 asylum seekers.
The ultimate goal of these social services, Hochul said, is to support asylum seekers as they attain legal work status, exit the shelter system and begin independent living.
"The path out of this crisis is work authorization," Hochul said. "New York has always welcomed immigrants and new arrivals - and getting asylum seekers on track to work authorization will help them become self-sufficient and come out of the shadows. New York State has provided significant humanitarian aid for more than a year, and we're committed to continuing to support the City in managing this ongoing crisis."
The state has also committed $1.5 billion to support the city's efforts to shelter asylum seekers and has deployed more than 1,800 members of the New York National Guard to provide logistical and operational support at city-run shelters, the state said in a press release.
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