Hundreds of migrants evacuated from repurposed Harlem jail due to plumbing issue

Hundreds of migrants were swiftly evacuated from a newly opened, repurposed correctional facility in Harlem on Saturday afternoon due to a plumbing issue.
Photo by Adrian Childress

Hundreds of asylum-seekers were evacuated from a newly opened, repurposed correctional facility in Harlem on Saturday afternoon due to a plumbing issue, several migrants and City Hall told amNewYork Metro.

The Lincoln Correctional Facility, located on the north side of Central Park, had been open for just four days when an unspecified plumbing issue prompted the removal of hundreds of asylum-seekers on June 4.

The incident left some waiting in large groups outside while others had been bussed to other locations. According to migrants living in the facility, they were removed from the building after the problem was discovered on the third floor.

The city converted the former Lincoln Correctional Facility in Harlem into a migrant shelter just last week. Photo by Adrian Childress

A City Hall spokesperson confirmed that those staying at the location had been temporarily evacuated, but insisted that the issue was rectified that same evening.

“Due to a plumbing issue discovered Saturday, we had to temporarily vacate one of the respite sites provided by the state yesterday, but the issue was resolved in the same day and all asylum seekers still on site yesterday evening were able to return inside,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The facility was always accessible and while we worked to get it fully back online, we offered all asylum seekers staying at this facility a place to wait or an alternate location to move for the night.”

The City Hall rep did not comment on where the individuals had been relocated to, however, eyewitnesses say they spotted buses bringing individuals back that evening, allowing them to re-enter. 

One man who said he hailed from Africa told amNewYork Metro he had been staying in Far Rockaway before being relocated to the new Harlem facility, a juggling act he maintains is happening to countless migrants across the city as officials struggle to cope with the sheer number of new arrivals.

The Adams administration last week received state clearance to use the shuttered prison complex at 31-33 West 110th St. as a temporary migrant shelter amid the influx. The 10,000 square-foot former state prison once accommodated 275 inmates and is the first jail or prison facility in New York to house migrants.

Over 70,000 migrants have come through the city’s shelter intake centers over the past year, the mayor’s office told amNewYork Metro last week, with nearly 45,000 currently in its homeless and emergency shelter systems.

With the Big Apple’s migrant population continuing to swell, Mayor Eric Adams has made repeated calls for federal aid. He has also moved to suspend the city’s right-to-shelter requirements amid the ongoing influx, saying the city has “done its share.”

Hundreds of migrants await direction outside the new facility after a plumbing issue forced an evacuation Saturday afternoon.Photo by Adrian Childress