Migrant families turn around after arriving at Floyd Bennett Field shelter in Brooklyn

Sonia Rincón Image
Monday, November 13, 2023
Migrant families turn around after arriving at Floyd Bennett Field shelter in Brooklyn
Sonia Rincon has the details.

MARINE PARK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- There was disappointment and frustration as migrant families turned around after arriving at the Floyd Bennett Field shelter, dragging luggage and getting back on buses - some say no one told them they were coming there.

Others, like one mom said it was just too far from the schools where their kids have been going in Manhattan and the Bronx.

"I'm grateful for what they've given me, but I can't stay here," she said.

Elected officials are watching, and said they can see why.

"Having your child in the southern end of Brooklyn here, when there is nothing, transit desert, is just not compatible," said Assembly Member Jaime Williams.

Most of the families that arrived on buses on Sunday afternoon chose not to say. However, the city says it is all it has right now, and refusing it means forgoing any shelter from New York City.

The city says that as of Sunday night, 13 families are resting at the shelter.

As another bus unloaded passengers after nightfall, it wasn't clear if any of them were returning, realizing this was their only option for a warm bed on a frigid night.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams spoke with families inside and says the city needs to better inform them before bringing them.

"Of course then, they may not come. That's probably better than coming and then being dropped off at a train station," Williams said.

Families staying at the Floyd Bennett shelter are offered transportation on a shuttle bus, taking them to and from Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, for what is likely a long commute to work or school.

"It's isolated, it's very reminiscent of sort of a prison," said Legal Aid Society Staff Attorney Stephanie Randolph.

The Legal Aid Society got a look inside weeks ago and gave the city a long list of reasons it is not a suitable shelter for families. There are cubicles with semi-private spaces for families inside, but bathrooms are still outside the main tents. This type of shelter up until now has only been used for single adults.

"This is the first time we've seen this, and if the city is offering no alternative to them, it's leave New York City or go to Floyd Bennett Field," Rudolph adds.

The Public Advocate says the city only has bad options right now.

"We really need the governor to realize the right to shelter is statewide and open up some spaces across the state. And we need the White House to help with a decompression strategy. When those things are not happening, you're asking New York City to provide a national response and we just don't have the ability to do that," Williams says.


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