Mayor Eric Adams on Monday fired back at a pair of advocacy groups who criticized his decision to open yet another 1,000-bed migrant shelter over the weekend, dinging them for not taking the fact that the city is facing “a crisis” of having to accommodate over 41,000 migrants into account.
“I don’t believe a lot of people are fully comprehending that this is a crisis, this is a crisis,” Adams said during an unrelated press conference Monday.
“I can understand those who are looking at what we’re doing through the prism of the normal situation,” he added. “What I’m going to ask of them is look at this, at the situation, [as] a crisis. The same way we looked at COVID. The same way we respond when there’s major flooding. The same way when we have a natural disaster. That is how we have to see this. And if you don’t see it that way, then you’re going to sit back and say ‘why [are] you using certain locations?’”
Shortly after Adams’ office announced the siting of the new “Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center (HERRC)” at Red Hook’s Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the Legal Aid Society and Coalition of the Homeless released a statement outlining their concerns about the new shelter’s location.
The groups — both frequent critics of the mayor’s response to the migrant crisis — cited issues with the new HERRC, like it being located in a flood zone, potentially leaving migrants exposed to the elements and being inaccessible to city services.
“Hotels have always been the better short-term option, in contrast to erecting tents in inaccessible parts of New York City that are prone to flooding,” they said.
The Adams administration has opened over 70 emergency shelters in hotels since the influx started to overwhelm the city’s shelter system last summer. The city is currently housing 27,000 asylum seekers, which has caused its shelter census to increase by over 40% — over 70,000 people, according to the mayor — since the influx began in earnest last spring.
Fabien Levy, the mayor’s press secretary, in a Sunday afternoon Tweet said the new HERRC won’t be a tent shelter like the now-defunct facility erected on Randall’s Island last year, but instead will be a “fully-enclosed, temperature-controlled, indoor building with privacy partitions.”
The facility will accommodate up to 1,000 male mostly Latin American asylum seekers, some of whom are being moved from another HERRC in the Watson Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, according to City Hall. The Watson is being repurposed to serve migrant families with children.
Adams again renewed his call for President Joe Biden’s administration to alleviate the number of migrants coming to the Big Apple with a so-called “decompression strategy.” On the state level, he said, that could mean moving migrants upstate.
“The federal government and the state must have a decompression strategy,” Adams said. “Mom used to say ‘in absence of a leader, be a leader.’ If I can’t get my national government to do a decompression strategy, I need to figure out a decompression strategy. This is unfair to all of our cities. No city should be carrying the burden of a national problem. And we’re putting in place our decompression strategy.”