Migrant tent city to take over SNAP of Eastern Queens Innovative Senior Center parking lot

CeFaan Kim Image
Thursday, July 27, 2023
Migrant tent city to take over SNAP Senior Center parking lot
The Adams Administration plans to put a tent city for adult male migrants in the parking lot of the SNAP Senior Center in Eastern Queens. CeFaan Kim has the story.

QUEENS VILLAGE, New York (WABC) -- The SNAP of Eastern Queens Innovative Senior Center has been in operation since 1980. Due to a new tent city planned by the Adams Administration, some fear the SNAP center is at risk of shutting down.

The Adams Administration plans to make the SNAP parking lot home for up to a thousand single adult male migrants seeking asylum.

SNAP provides everything from meals on wheels to health and wellness programs.

"There's a lot of the work that goes into bringing in the food," said Linda Lee, a council member. "Prepping the meals, packing the meals, putting them in the trucks. Making sure you have places to park the trucks."

Most of that work happens in SNAP's parking lot. It is important real estate they are not sure they can survive without.

Plus, many of the seniors are uncomfortable with inviting migrants into their space.

"Our seniors have clearly stated to me personally and the members of my staff that if this tent goes up, they will not come," said Paola Miceli, CEO of SNAP.

Some of the seniors have been dealing with constant harassment and vandalism from the homeless population in the area and psychiatric residents, and they fear the tent city will pose more issues.

The new humanitarian relief center on the SNAP parking lot will be on the Creedmor Psychiatric Center campus, space owned by New York state.

The state will reimburse the city for the costs of construction, maintenance and staffing for the tent city.

If seniors stop showing up to SNAP when the migrants move in, the center might stop meeting their contractual mandate and be forced to shut down.

"(It's) very scary for us as an organization that has been in business since 1980 and whose main concern is the care of the elderly," Miceli said.

Miceli said she only learned about the tent city Tuesday, and that construction will start Friday.

The tent city will be operational in two weeks, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

"Where's the transit? Where's the services? How are we going to care for people here? What's going to be the sanitation, the heating, the air conditioning?" said Edward Braunstein, a member of the State Assembly. "We've heard nothing."

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