NEW YORK (AP) — A giant tent complex built on an island is set to open Wednesday as New York’s last temporary shelter for an influx of international migrants bused into the city from southern border states.
The Randall’s Island Humanitarian Relief Center is intended to be a temporary station for single adult men – many of whom are from Venezuela – who arrive several times a week on chartered buses mostly from Texas.
Spartan and utilitarian, the tents include beds for up to 500 people, laundry facilities, a dining area, and telephones for residents to make international calls.
The city’s plan is to bring single men to the facility once they arrive at Manhattan’s main bus terminal and house them there for a few days while determining next steps, officials said. Families with children are accommodated in a hotel.
“We needed a different type of operation that gave us the time and space to accommodate people, provide them with a hot shower for meals, a place to sleep, to understand their medical needs, to really work afterwards. with them to determine what their next step would be. going to be,” said Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol.
The white, plastic-walled tents also include an area where migrants can meet with social workers to work out their next steps, as well as a recreation room with TVs, video games and board games. In the sleeping area, rows of green beds stretch out, each with a pillow, sheets and blanket, and towels. The city said it would 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 have been sent to the city from other states, including Texas and Arizona. The influx has strained the city’s shelter system, prompting authorities to seek other places to house people and offer temporary tents.
New York’s homeless shelter system is now overflowing with more than 63,300 residents. While there are fewer families in shelters now than there were in the years before the pandemic, 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 July’s overnight average.
Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency earlier this month, calling the increased demands placed 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 of the remote location. Iscol said the Randall Island location was safe from flooding.
Advocates remain concerned even about the new location, wondering under what conditions the migrants will be kept and whether the support they will receive will be adequate.
Randall’s Island is located in the waters between the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. Five bridges connect it to the three boroughs, and the city’s metro system can be reached by bus or on foot.
It is already used for various purposes – there are many sports grounds, as well as Icahn Stadium, an athletics facility. There is also a psychiatric hospital and a fire school for the New York Fire Department.
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