The Randall’s Island Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center (HERRC) — the city’s largest such facility to date — opened on Sunday as Adams administration officials continue to plead for federal assistance to aid with the migrant crisis.
The “tent city” erected on Randall’s Island Soccer Field 83 encompasses three large, reinforced canopies dedicated exclusively to housing sleeping quarters. The scene of each cot filed against one another inside of room after room is not only striking to the eye, but also a stark reality, according to Theodore Long, the Senior Vice President of Ambulatory Care and Population Health at New York City Health + Hospitals.
Long states that the facility is still being expanded despite opening to house new arrivals and is expected to care for some 3,000 migrants with the cost of the HERRC being footed by the state. All this comes as the city still currently bears the burden of some 58,000 asylum seekers in “tent cities,” hotels, and shelters.
“With the numbers of asylum seekers crossing our border into our country each day, we’re seeing the numbers go down. However, in New York City, we’re seeing the number of asylum seekers every day go up. So because of that, this facility could be full fairly soon,” Long explained. “I don’t know exactly when but what I do know is that we need to be constructing facilities like this, which is why today is so important.”
Long also revealed that things are so dire that the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s “tent city,” which opened on Aug. 15, is already half filled as City Hall numbers suggest over 100,000 migrants have passed through NYC since Spring 2022.
Manuel Castro, commissioner of immigrant affairs, told amNewYork Metro that he has been to the southern border, he has spoken with those staying in hotels and in HERRCs, and, as an immigrant himself, implored the federal government to offer help to New York.
“Perhaps if this was not New York City, the federal government would have responded already. But they have not, so we continue to call on the federal government to provide us with the appropriate support that we need,” Castro said. “They respond to emergency crises that impact a lot less people around the country and we just did not understand why 100,000 asylum seekers, and with this much impact on New York City, the federal government has not responded appropriately.”
With space and resources running low, City Hall is still searching for places to house more people as they continue to arrive by air and land. However, several human rights advocates have levied criticism at the city for establishing the HERRCs in remote locations essentially isolating them, such as the failed startup on Orchard Beach.
Officials pushed back against this criticism by stating that those staying at the location will have access to the M35 bus and a shuttle bus that will transport individuals to Astoria, Queens.
The Randall’s Island HERRC will house single adult men for an undetermined amount of time.