A complex of giant tents built on an island will open Wednesday as New York City’s latest makeshift shelter for an influx of international migrants being shunned by countries. the southern border brought into the city.
The Randall Island Humanitarian Relief Center was intended as a temporary stopover for single adult men – many from Venezuela – who arrived several times per week on buses mainly from Texas.
Spartan and functional, the tents include cots for up to 500 people, laundry facilities, a dining room, and a phone for people to make international calls.
Officials say the city’s plan is to bring single men to the facility when they arrive at the main bus terminal in Manhattan and send them there for a period of several days while determining next steps. . Families with children are being accommodated in a hotel.
“We needed a different kind of activity that would allow us the time and space to welcome people, provide them with a warm meal, a place to sleep, to understand their medical needs, to really work with them to figure out what their next step will be,” said emergency management commissioner Zach Iscol.
The white plastic wall tents also have spaces where migrants can meet with case officers to determine their next steps, as well as a recreation room with TVs, video games and games. play on the table.
In the sleeping area, line up a stretch of green cribs, each with a pillow, some sheets and blankets, and some towels. The city says it will be able to double the sleeping capacity of the tents, if needed.
In recent months, New York City has seen an unexpected increase in the number of migrants seeking asylum in the United States, who were sent to the city from other states, including Texas and Arizona. . The influx has strained the city’s shelter system, prompting officials to look for other places to shelter people and propose makeshift tent facilities.
New York City’s homeless shelter system currently operates with more than 63,300 residents. Although there are fewer families in shelters now than in pre-pandemic years, the number of single men has skyrocketed since the spring, largely due to the influx of migrants. There were more than 20,000 single adults in the shelter system on Monday, up 23% from the nightly average in July.
Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency earlier this month, calling the increased demand on the city “unsustainable.”
The tents were originally planned for a remote corner of the Bronx, but were moved after concerns about flooding and criticism from immigrant advocates over the remote location. Iscol said the location of Randall’s Island is safe from flooding.
Advocates remain concerned even with the new location, questioning under what conditions migrants will be detained and whether the support they will receive is adequate.
Randall Island is located in the sea between the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. Five bridges connect it to three districts, and the city’s subway system is accessible by bus or on foot.
It has been put to a variety of uses – there are numerous sports fields, as well as Icahn Stadium, an athletics facility. There is also a psychiatric hospital and a fire academy for the New York Fire Department.