Randall's Island tent city for asylum seekers to close by end of next week

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, November 11, 2022
Randall's Island tent city for asylum seekers to close by end of next week
The tent city for migrants on Randall's Island is closing by the end of next week, the Mayor's Office announced on Thursday.

RANDALL'S ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- The tent city for migrants on Randall's Island is closing by the end of next week, the Mayor's Office announced on Thursday.

Anyone staying there will be transferred to the Watson Hotel in Midtown.

The facility was for adult men, but few came, apparently, because it was out of the way.

According to the Legal Aid Society, fewer than 300 migrants were housed at Randall's Island on Tuesday.

"The city is currently caring for over 17,500 asylum seekers, a number that continues to grow steadily,"Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. "We will continue to pivot and shift as necessary to deal with this humanitarian crisis, but it's clear that we still need financial assistance from our state and federal partners."

Murad Awawdeh, the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition released a statement saying,

"We applaud the City's decision to close the Randalls Island encampment and relocate existing and future asylum seekers to a new location better suited to ensuring they have ready access to mass transit and the supportive services they need to more fully integrate into New York City life. Still, it is imperative that the City moves quickly to offer permanent housing to longtime shelter residents and others stuck in the city's overburdened shelter system. The City must also expand eligibility of CityFEPS to include families and individuals regardless of immigration status, and fill the vacancies in all Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) apartments. We look forward to continuing to work with the Adams administration to create the most welcoming conditions possible for asylum seekers and all new arrivals in a city that has always stood as a beacon of hope for immigrants."

The city is not saying how much constructing an emergency relief center for the migrants will end up costing taxpayers.

We know it will be at least $650,000, which includes the cost the city said to take down the first facility in Orchard Beach and build it again on Randall's Island. The city was forced to break down the Orchard Beach facility before it even opened after community outcry.

The city has not said what it will do now with the facility's TV's, laundry machines, beds, heating equipment, bathrooms and more.

At Port Authority Friday, migrants continued to arrive, but only by a few dozen. The National Guard - not the city - is now the lead agency handling the processing of the migrants.

Those with non-profit Team TLC NYC are continuing to provide clothing and food to the new arrivals and said the need has only increased.

Ilze Thielmann said, "Every single day, we have 100 people or more coming back who have already been sent to the shelters that come back looking for food, clothing, all kinds of assistance. So even when we don't have buses, we are extremely busy serving the community that's already arrived."

She said volunteers have helped up to 160 people in one day.

"A lot of them are not getting what they need in the shelter system, so they are returning to the one place that they know that they've gotten services," she said.

Thielmann said they would appreciate donations of new, packaged men and women's underwear in sizes small and medium, children's underwear, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, new shoes and new or gently used children's winter clothing. Thielmann asked people not to clean out their closets and donate those items.

Donations can be brought to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at the entrance on 8th Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bring them to the National Guard personnel and explain they are donations.

You can also donate items through Team TLC NYC's Amazon wish list online.

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