NEW YORK — New York City is temporarily turning a cruise ship terminal into a shelter and services center for asylum seekers, Mayor Eric Adams said Saturday, announcing the latest in a series of facilities the city has set up — and sometimes closed — as it scrambles to deal with a steady influx.
The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will provide space, food, medical care and other services for 1,000 single men until it returns to the cruise business in the spring, the mayor’s office said in a press release. The first residents move from another reception center to a hotel, which will switch to the reception of asylum-seeking families with children.
“Our city is on the verge of breaking,” says Adams, a Democrat who has repeatedly called for state and federal aid to deal with the flow of asylum seekers — some of them bused by out-of-state governors — to the most populous of the country. city. Adams traveled to El Paso, Texas, this week to visit the southern border of the US and put pressure on it. He declared a state of emergency over the issue this fall.
According to the mayor, a total of 41,000 asylum seekers have come to the city since last spring. With the terminal, the city will have five such “Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief” centers for the nearly 28,000 asylum seekers it currently houses and those who may yet arrive. Some 77 hotels have also been bugged as emergency shelters.
The city’s earlier moves to create shelter for the new arrivals have met with mixed reception and usage. A plan to erect a hangar-sized tent in a beach parking lot was scrapped due to storm surge concerns. The city then built a complex of giant tents on an island with a park and sports facilities; the tented facility closed three weeks later after light use as arrivals slowed for a while.
Some advocates for people in need of shelter criticized the plan for the cruise ship terminal, saying the waterfront building could flood and is not suitable for housing people. Hotels are a better short-term option, and the longer-term plan should be to free up space in the city’s existing homeless shelters by stepping up efforts to provide permanent housing for their residents, according to the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless. .
“To continue to move asylum seekers around the boroughs like chess pieces is heartless and indicative of City Hall’s failure to competently manage this crisis,” the groups said in a statement.
Adams said city officials “continue to exceed both our moral and legal obligations and meet the needs of people arriving in New York.”