Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday that the city will open Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers to support the growing number of asylum seekers arriving every day from Texas and other border states.
Humanitarian centers will provide much-needed relief and assistance to newly-arrived individuals and families to ensure that they have continued access to the full range of care they need. This includes shelter, food, medical care, casework services, settlement options and direct referrals to alternative emergency supports.
The first such center will open soon at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, according to the Adams administration.
“While other leaders have abdicated their moral duty to support arriving asylum seekers, New York City refuses to do so,” said Adams in his announcement on Sept. 22. “This is not an everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach. That’s why the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will be the first touchpoint for asylum seekers that will provide them with a range of services and support as families determine their next steps. This emergency response represents what we know must be done during this humanitarian crisis, as we continue to seek assistance from our federal and state partners to continue this work. Like the generations that came to our city before, New York will provide the thousands now coming to our city with the foundation to build a better life.”
The city’s Department of Emergency Management (NYCDEM) and Health + Hospitals will operate the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers and partner with other city agencies to provide comprehensive on-site care.
“As hundreds of migrants continue to enter New York City each day, we must take steps to ensure their health and safety as well as maintain our ability to provide essential services; that’s why we’re proud to announce the launch of the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers,” said NYCEM Commissioner Zach Iscol. “This is a true interagency effort, and we look forward to continuing this work with our partner agencies to ensure asylum seekers are receiving the resources they need after a long and difficult journey.”
Two humanitarian centers will open in coming weeks with the Orchard Beach location opening first, one will be geared toward adults and the second for families. Additional centers will open as needed and all humanitarian relief centers will be expertly designed and climate-controlled, safe spaces, the Mayor’s office said.
“This is a humanitarian crisis that requires a new approach designed specifically to best assist those coming to our city,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “The Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will have services tailored to the asylum seeker population, including providing settlement options, as well as legal information and health and safety support. In this unprecedented time, we’re laser focused on supporting the parents, children and individuals who deserve compassion and support, and these centers are one piece of our work to do just that.”
However, following Mayor Adams’ announcement, the Legal Aid Society — which advocates for immigrant rights — issued a statement expressing concern about the decision.
“We have asked the City a series of questions about this proposal and await their responses,” the statement said. “However, we are deeply concerned with any scenario in which families with children would be relegated to congregate settings. This practice, which has been widely condemned for its adverse and dangerous impact on this uniquely vulnerable population, is already subject to legal prohibitions. That said, we remain willing to work with the City on a viable solution that satisfies New York’s legal and moral obligation to provide safe and adequate shelter to all who seek it, including asylum seekers.”
Later in the day, Senior administration officials revealed more details regarding the upcoming Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers designed to aid the influx of migrant arrivals.
Sources at the city’s office explained that migrants arriving at Port Authority will be bused to an unspecified parking lot in Orchard Beach where about five large tents will be erected. From there the adults will be offered food and services to help reunite them with family members. Officials also assured that those housed at the site will be able to come and go as they please and will be protected by security. However, they also stated that this relief center is not designed for long term stays and is intended to aid those arriving until they find permanent fixtures whether that be in New York or elsewhere, yet the exact timeline has not been finalized.
As of Sept. 22, over 30,600 asylum seekers went through the city’s shelter intake process. Currently there are 10,300 asylum seekers are living in the shelters.There are 3,200 school age children residing in these shelters—which has increased from just last week which had 2,600 school-aged children. In response, the city has opened 38 emergency shelters.