NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams’ revised plan to temporarily shelter migrants on Randall’s Island doesn’t go far enough, New York City councilmembers and other politicians said Wednesday, calling for the new arrivals to be housed indoors.
After construction had already begun on a tent encampment at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, the Adams administration shifted the project earlier this week to Randall’s Island amid public concerns that the original site was prone to flooding, among other issues. But critics have said that the new location is not much better, with some local leaders asking why the migrants can’t be sheltered indoors.
On Wednesday night, leaders presented some solutions of their own, including using dozens of closed hotels and even vacant churches. The council says there are over 15,000 available rooms, adding that using hotels could have the dual benefit of providing jobs for unemployed hotel workers.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, meanwhile, has also called for the Adams administration to shelter the migrants indoors.
“Asylum seekers seeking support, solidarity, and a better life deserve much more than a tent in a transit desert,” Williams said in part after City Hall announced the pivot to Randall’s Island. “At the very least, the city should tap into resources used during the height of the pandemic to further open space at hotels or large indoor areas.”
City officials say over 16,000 asylum seekers have gone through the city’s shelter intake process so far in recent months as they’ve been bused north by politicians in border states, most notably Texas. The ultimate goal is to expedite the migrants’ transitions from homeless shelters into permanent housing with supportive services.
During an appearance Wednesday night on NY1, Adams signaled that he was open to using hotels, but needed to see specifics.
“I’m glad they’re coming with the spirit of cooperation, to come with a solution,” Adams said in part. “If they have some specific hotels that they’re talking about, I’m looking forward to sitting down with the council and Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, our speaker, and coming up with those solutions.”