Shelters in New York | First wave of expulsions of migrant families

(New York) Since arriving from Venezuela four months ago, Joana Rivas has slowly found a semblance of stability in New York, landing occasional cleaning jobs and enrolling her 9-year-old daughter in a Manhattan public school.

As she navigates her new city, a crucial anchor for Mme Rivas was given free accommodation in a hotel-turned-shelter near Times Square. On Tuesday, however, his stay at the shelter came to an end. Mme Rivas had to keep her daughter with her rather than send her to school and pack up their belongings to go apply for new housing.

“Tonight I don’t know where we’ll go,” said Mme Rivas, 39, outside a migrant reception center in midtown Manhattan. “I came here just to see what they would tell me, with the hope that my daughter would have a place to sleep tonight. »

New York City has begun evicting dozens of migrant families who had reached their 60-day limit to stay in the homeless shelter system, the latest effort by the City to encourage more between them to leave and find permanent housing.

Nearly 70,000 migrants live in a patchwork of hotels, homeless shelters and giant tents set up by the city for the winter.

The first wave of evictions coincided with an unexpected and significant obstacle: On Tuesday, city officials temporarily evacuated 1,900 migrants housed in a tent shelter site in southeast Brooklyn due to a rainstorm that was heading towards the city during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.


The Floyd Bennett Field accommodation site after heavy rain on Wednesday

A City Hall spokesperson said the move of migrant families living in tent dormitories at Floyd Bennett Field on the shores of Jamaica Bay was decided “to ensure the safety and well-being of people working and living at the center,” an area that was flooded during the last big storm. The families were bused to a Brooklyn high school Tuesday afternoon, city officials said.

Migrant families with children who were forced out of the City’s shelter system due to the 60-day limit will be allowed to reapply for another place. But they will have to leave the shelters they have called home for weeks, even months, and go to a City reception center with their suitcases to be assigned new beds, possibly in a different location.

A unique legal mandate

This reshuffle, in the depths of winter, was denounced by critics of Mayor Eric Adams, who consider it unnecessarily disruptive for migrants who are still trying to establish themselves in a new city. Human rights advocates have also expressed concern for migrant children who could end up in housing further from the public schools in which they are enrolled.


Migrants prepare signs in front of the Row Hotel in New York on Tuesday

Mr. Adams defended his decision to force migrant families to reapply for housing, arguing at a news conference Monday that the city was overwhelmed by new arrivals and families living in hotels had to find more stable places to live. He promised, as he has before, that no family with children would be forced to sleep on the streets.

“We act in a very humane way,” he said.

Since last spring, nearly 170,000 migrants have left the southern border to seek help in New York, many of them drawn by the City’s unique legal mandate to provide free housing to anyone who asks for a bed.

The Adams administration has opened more than 200 emergency shelter centers to help house migrants, most of whom are no longer in the City’s care. But New York has also started limiting the number of days migrants can stay in shelters in order to free up beds and incentivize those in shelters to move out of care by the City.

About 4,400 families in total have received 60-day notices that will take effect in the coming weeks, officials said. They said social workers met with families to discuss housing options. The first migrants affected by the 60-day limit on Tuesday were 40 families staying at the Row, the Times Square hotel where Rivas.


Migrants, including Jose Negrette and his family, were evicted from the Row Hotel in New York on Tuesday.

The families were supposed to leave the shelter Tuesday morning, according to authorities. Those wishing to reapply for accommodation had to go to the Roosevelt Hotel, a downtown establishment about a 15-minute walk away, which was converted to become the city’s main migrant reception center .

Priority to families with young children

The Dr Ted Long, vice president of the New York public hospital system, which is helping to oversee the operation, said the city would prioritize helping migrant families with young children find new housing near their school and minimize disruption.

We will move heaven and earth to place (migrant families with young children) in a new hotel as quickly as possible.

The Dr Ted Long, vice president of the New York public hospital system

Despite these assurances, Democratic representatives to Adams’ political left quickly attacked the displacement of migrant families, using harsh language to ask the mayor to suspend time limits on shelter stays. At a rally outside City Hall Monday, City Comptroller Brad Lander described family evictions as “one of the cruelest things the City has done in generations.”


Municipal Comptroller Brad Lander at a press conference in New York on Tuesday

“We will not throw people out of warm shelters during cold winters,” he said. We will not allow this city to dislodge children from their public schools in the middle of the school year. »

A group of rights organizations also denounced the 60-day limits as harsh and destabilizing for migrants. The potential disruption to schooling could have disastrous effects on children, some educators said, and advocates said the address change could disrupt migrants’ access to their mail, including important court notices of immigration.

“Instead of focusing on school, work and building a life here, newly arrived immigrants will have to navigate increasing bureaucratic hurdles to maintain their housing and access immigration assistance.” , the New York Legal Assistance Group said in a statement.

This article was originally published in the New York Times.


Leave a Comment