A slew of elected officials and human rights advocates called on the mayor Thursday to rethink his “tent city” on Randall’s Island.
Taking to the steps of City Hall, the coalition — helmed by Housing Justice for All, New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York and more — urged Hizzoner to find alternative solutions when it comes to housing the influx of asylum seekers. The group looked to remind the city that New York was once a hub for immigrants. Unfurling a banner quoting the Statue of Liberty’s plaque, which read: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.”
Demonstrators took umbrage with the city’s Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center, feeling that an assembly of tents is not adequate shelter and shouldn’t be used to house people, albeit temporarily.
Speakers charged that the tents do not provide sufficient protections from strong winds and heavy rainfall and should not be considered shelter. Harsh criticism was also levied at the previously established and then abandoned Orchard Beach location for being prone to flooding, something those at the rally say showcase the tents’ failure to withstand the city’s diverse climate.
“To Mayor Adams and his administration. I say, ‘Winter is coming’ and tents are not housing,” Senator Jabari Brisport said. “We must use creative solutions, we must use hotels, we must use whatever we can to get people into housing that can actually shelter them.”
The rally also accused the mayor of failing to sufficiently tackle the homelessness crisis, something critics believe could have lightened the impact of what Adams himself has deemed a state of emergency.
“New York City is facing a housing crisis, we were facing a housing crisis before we went into the pandemic. We’re still facing a housing crisis now. Our shelters are not equipped, the city is not prepared and now we are faced with more people coming to our city. This calls for attention at the city, state and federal level. At the city, we need to expedite the process to allow folks that are in the shelter system to get a voucher to find an apartment and we need to ensure that we’re putting money into it,” Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes said. “This mayor is calling for additional budget cuts and most importantly, we need to find different ways of ensuring that folks stay in their home.”
amNewYork Metro reached out to the mayor’s office and is waiting for a response.