New York City officials are scrambling to open two new sprawling tent shelters for arriving asylum-seekers, both in Queens, THE CITY has learned.
The city greenlighted their construction this week, according to a source in Mayor Eric Adams’ administration. One is set to be located at the state-owned Creedmoor Psychiatric Center and the other at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Each is expected to house around 1,000 adults, and officials are aiming to open the tented structures in the next two to three weeks, the source said.
While the Aqueduct racetrack is located near the A train, Creedmoor is a 15-minute drive from the last stop on the F train.
The facilities will resemble the structures the city opened and then shut quickly down last fall at Orchard Beach in The Bronx, and then on Randall’s Island.
City officials are still racing to identify additional locations to open up to migrants in the coming weeks.
Kate Smart, a City Hall spokesperson, declined to comment on the new tent locations, adding that the only migrant shelters on track to open were announced via press release earlier in the week.
“As the mayor has said, all options are on the table as we deal with this crisis and no humanitarian relief centers are final until announced,” Smart said.
A spokesperson for Gov. Kathy Hochul did not immediately respond to a request for comment from THE CITY.
‘A Front Door That Is Open’
The administration source said they were unsure how long the city could keep identifying places for migrants to sleep.
“Every day is a full-on sprint,” the source said. “And there’s no exit in sight.”
While border crossings into the United States have declined in recent weeks, New York City has continued to see a steady flow of arriving migrants.
“A lot of the folks that we’re getting now are coming from other parts of the United States, where other people in other cities are running out of space,” Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday. “Since we have a front door that is open, people are finding themselves here.”
According to the most recent data available, between July 3 and 7 there were 3,100 new asylum-seekers that entered city shelters, bringing the number of migrants housed there up to 53,000. All told, an unprecedented 103,400 people were sleeping in city shelters as of July 9, city officials said.
To accommodate the influx of migrants seeking shelter in New York City, officials have opened emergency shelters in 186 hotels and commercial buildings across the city, with what the administration estimates will be a $4.3 billion price tag by the end of next year.
The news of two new tents to hold 2,000 people total comes just less than a week after THE CITY reported that officials had quietly opened what’s expected to become the largest migrant shelter yet, also with the capacity for 2,000 people spread across a “respite center” meant for short term stays overseen by city Emergency Management, as well as a separate “Humanitarian Resource and Relief Center” run by NYC Health + Hospitals.
The large Creedmoor campus is already being eyed by the state as a resource to help alleviate homelessness. Hochul recently began the public engagement process for a plan to develop 3,500 transitional and supportive housing units.
Advocates for homeless New Yorkers have been urging the city to come up with a longer-term plan for migrants, and to put more emphasis on getting New Yorkers out of homeless shelters.
Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, last week called the city’s continued reliance on emergency shelters “short-sighted, costly and ineffective.”
Instead, he said, “New Yorkers need more permanent housing, not more temporary shelters and HERRCs,” referring to what the city has dubbed Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers.